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I first read The Dream Songs when I was nineteen. I had that intuition you get sometimes when you pull a book off the shelf that it might be the one you are meant to read. I don’t know what drew me to it. Maybe it was the strangeness of its cover (black, white, green and pink); maybe it was the unabashed lyricism of the title. It was a used book and I remember thinking it was heartbreaking that someone had given it away. I thought this because there was an inscription on the front flap that said: For sweets, from Eric.
I was 19 when I met John. If that sounds overly personal, that’s because it is.
He’d been dead thirty years by then and though he remains dead to this day I still feel, somewhat inexplicably, that I knew him, that I still know him. Something of Berryman has escaped his work and continues to haunt me.
Rowan Ricardo Phillips
The incandescent temperament of Berryman’s poetry strikes the page bright and cold like the bioluminescence that seeks its way out from the lower abdomen of a firefly. He pored over his poems obsessively with the zeal of the scholar and yet they seem the residue of animal instinct, the flotsam of barely controlled explosions of his tumultuous inner self.