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.

What People are Saying

"In the beginning of my Poetry Out Loud experience, I didn't expect to become so attached to my three competition poems. Five months later, they have become a part of me."
Gabrielle Cooper
2017 ME POL Champion