John Berryman

1914–1972
John Berryman

A scholar and professor as well as a poet, John Berryman is best-known for The Dream Songs, an intensely personal sequence of 385 poems which brought him the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. In these he invented a style and form able to accommodate a vast range of material while expressing his turbulent emotions. Made up of three six-line stanzas that teem with allusions to past and present events and to literary figures, The Dream Songs display an astonishing variety of poetic resources that include slangy diction and a nervous, fractured syntax. His poems are influenced by the Irish poet W.B. Yeats, psychoanalysis, and Shakespeare, whose plays and poems Berryman frequently taught.

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