Writers

Add to researchRichard Berengarten

Richard Berengarten

Melanie Rein

Born
London
Genre
Young Adult, Poetry, Non-Fiction
 
 
Biography

Poet Richard Berengarten (formerly Burns) was born in London in 1943 into a family of musicians.

He was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and University College London. He has lived in Italy, Greece, the USA and former Yugoslavia. His poetry has been translated into more than 85 languages. It is marked by its multicultural frames of reference, depth and ambitiousness of themes, and formal variety and dexterity.

His mature work is inaugurated by Angels (1977), Tree (1980) and Black Light (1983), a tribute to George Seferis. The range is extended in the book-length poem The Manager (2001), and Book With No Back Cover (2003), which derives from Yi Qing (I Ching). Then comes his 'Balkan Trilogy': In A Time of Drought (2006); The Blue Butterfly (2006), whose departure-point is an encounter with a blue butterfly at the site of a Nazi massacre; and Under Balkan Light (2008). The first of these won the Morava International Poetry Prize and the second, the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize for Poetry and the Serbian Veliki školski čas award. Other books include Learning to Talk (1980), Some Poems, illuminated by Frances Richards (1977), Roots/Routes (1982), Croft Woods (1999), Against Perfection (1999), For the Living (2004) and Manual I - IV (2006-2010).

Richard Berengarten (as Burns) published his first story at the age of 16 in Transatlantic Review. As a student, he wrote for Granta and co-founded the Oxbridge magazine Carcanet. He worked in Padua and Venice, briefly apprenticing himself to the English poet Peter Russell. In Greece, he witnessed the military coup d’état and responded with The Easter Rising 1967. Returning to Cambridge, he met Octavio Paz and, with Anthony Rudolf, co-edited An Octave for Octavio Paz (1972). In the same year, his first collection, Double Flute won an Eric Gregory Award, and Avebury appeared. In 1975, he launched the international Cambridge Poetry Festival, which ran until 1985. His 1981 monograph, Keys to Transformation, explores Ceri Richards and Dylan Thomas. Burns often collaborates with visual artists. He has translated poetry and prose from Italian, French, Greek, Serbian and Croatian.

His posts include: the British Council, Athens (1967); East London College (1968-9); Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology (1969-79); Arts Council resident writer, Victoria Centre for Adult Education (1979-81); Visiting Professor, Notre Dame University (1982); and British Council Lector, Belgrade (1987-91). He is an authority on creative writing for children and adults, and on writing skills for university students. He was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge (2003-2005), Project Fellow (2005-2006), and is currently Bye-Fellow at Downing College, Praeceptor at Corpus Christi College, and supervisor at Emmanuel, Pembroke and Wolfson Colleges and at Peterhouse.

Bibliography

2010
The Perfect Order: Selected Poems 1965-2010/Nasos Vayenas, editor with Paschalis Nikolaou, Anvil Press Poetry
2010
New Order: Hungarian Poets of the Post 1989 Generation, contributing translator, Arc
2009
Notre Dame Review: The First Ten Years, contributor, Notre Dame (Indiana)
2009
Manual/the fourth 20, Earl of Seacliffe (New Zealand)
2009
For Angus, editor with Gideon Calder, Los
2009
ContourLines, contributor, Salt
2008
Under Balkan Light, Salt
2008
Studia Mythologica Slavica 11, contributor, Ljubljana and Trieste
2008
Selected Poems/Aldo Vianello, co-translator, Anvil Press Poetry
2008
Hlding the Sea: Manual/the third 20, Earl of Seacliffe (New Zealand)
2007
Speaking English, contributor, Five Leaves
2007
Into the Further Reaches, contributor, PS Avalon
2007
Holding the Darkness: Manual/the second 20, Earl of Seacliffe (New Zealand)
2007
A Room to Live In: a Kettle's Yard Anthology, contributor, Salt
2006
The Blue Butterfly, Salt
2006
Manual/the first 20, Earl of Seacliffe Art Workshop (New Zealand)
2006
In A Time of Drought, Shoestring Press
2005
The Art of Unthinking, International Haiku Association (Bulgaria & Japan)
2005
Remnants of Light, contributor, Serbian Writers' Association
2004
For the Living/Selected Longer Poems 1965-2000, Salt
2003
Looking Eastward, contributor, MPT
2003
Book with No Back Cover, David Paul
2002
Passionate Renewal/Jewish Poetry in Britain since 1945, contributor, Five Leaves
2002
Earth Songs, contributor, Green Books
2002
A Party Between Two Covers, contributor, Chapman
2001
The Manager, Elliott and Thompson
1999
There ARE Kermodians, contributor, David Campbell
1999
The Twilight of the West, contributor, Novosti (Serbia)
1999
The Mind Has Mountains: a.alvarez@lxx, contributor, Los
1999
Is NATO right to bomb Yugoslavia?, Politika (Serbia)
1999
Croft Woods, Los
1999
Against Perfection, The King of Hearts
1998
The Spaces of Hope, contributing translator, Anvil Press Poetry
1998
Half of Nowhere, illustrated by Nick Maland, Cambridge University Press
1997
Balkan Destiny/Ivan Gadjanski, translator, RAD (Serbia)
1996
The Colonnade of Teeth, contributing translator, Bloodaxe
1996
Summoning the Sea, contributor, Salzburg
1995
The Road to Parnassus, contributor, Salzburg University
1994
Out of Yugoslavia, co-editor, North Dakota Quarterly (US)
1993
Klaonica, contributor, Bloodaxe
1991
The Space Between, contributor, Notre Dame (Indiana)
1991
I Wear My Shadow Inside Me: poems by Duška Vrhovac, co-translator, Forest
1990
The Virago Book of Love Poetry, contributing translator, Virago
1990
Lady in An Empty Dress: poems by Aleksandar Petrov, translator, Forest Books
1990
Färdväg/30 English Poets, contributor, FIB: S. Lyrikkllubb (Sweden)
1990
An Anthology for Alan Clodd, contributor, Enitharmon
1989
Anthony Dorrell, a Memoir, St. Michael's Mount, Cambridge
1989
A Grove of Trees and a Grove of Stones, Octobar (Serbia)
1988
P.E.N. New Poetry II, contributor, Quartet Books
1987
New Angles, contributor, Oxford
1986
With a Poet's Eye, contributor, The Tate Gallery
1985
Anthony Rudolf and the Menard Press, Los
1983
The Full Note/Lorine Niedecker, contributor, Interim Press
1983
Black Light, Los
1982
Roots/Routes, Cleveland State University Poetry Center (US)
1982
In Visible Ink: Selected Poems of Roberto Sanesi, editor, Aquila
1981
Keys to Transformation/Ceri Richards and Dylan Thomas, Enitharmon
1981
Homage to Mandelstam, editor with George Gömöri, Los
1980
Voices With the Ark, contributor, Avon Books (US)
1980
Tree, Menard
1980
Rivers of Life: a Gravesham Anthology, editor, Victoria Press
1980
Learning to Talk, Enitharmon
1979
For John Riley, contributor, Grosseteste Press
1978
Earthquake, Sceptre Press
1978
Biography: poems by Nasos Vayenas, translator, Lobby Press
1977
Writers of East Anglia, contributor, Secker & Warburg
1977
Some poems, illuminated by Frances Richards, Enitharmon
1977
Poems for Shakespeare, contributor, Globe Playhouse Publications
1977
On the Organic Language of Henry Moore/Roberto Sanesi, translator, La Nuova Foglio (Italy)
1977
Angels, Los
1976
Inhabitable Space, John Morann (Netherlands)
1975
Roberto Sanesi/A Selection, contributor, Grosseteste
1975
New Poetry, contributor, Arts Council of Great Britain
1973
Untitled, Sceptre Press
1973
Mario Radice/Guido Ballo, translator with Joan Hall, ILTE (Italy)
1973
Journey Towards the North/Ceri Richards, contributing translator, Cerastico
1972
The Graphic Works of Ceri Richards/Roberto Sanesi, translator, Enitharmon
1972
Double Flute, Enitharmon
1972
Avebury, Anvil Press Poetry
1972
An Octave for Octovio Paz, editor with Anthony Rudolf, sceptre Press/Menard
1971
The Return of Lazarus, Bragora Press
1969
The Flaw/Antonis Samarakis, translator with Peter Mansfield, Hutchinson
1969
The Easter Rising 1967, Restif Press
1968
Time of a Flower: poems by Aldo Vianello, translator, Anvil Press Poetry

Awards

2007
Veliki školski čas award (Serbia), The Blue Butterfly
2005
Morava International Poetry Prize (Serbia), In a Time of Drought
1992
Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize for Poetry, The Blue Butterfly (unpublished draft)
1990
Yeats Club Prize for translation, shortlist
1989
Yeats Club Prize for poem and translation, shortlist
1982
Duncan Lawrie Prize, Arvon International Poetry Competition
1974
Keats Memorial Prize for Poetry, The Rose of Sharon
1973
Arts Council Writers' Award
1972
Keats Memorial Prize for Poetry, shortlist
1972
Eric Gregory Award

Author Statement

  Six propositions   1. There are no temporal or spatial centres. Octavio Paz answered Yeats’ complaint that ‘the centre cannot hold’ (1919), with the assertion that ‘for the first time in our history, we are contemporaries of all humanity’ (1950). 2. There is no civilisation without poetry. A poet’s responsibilities are social as well as subjective, communal as well as individual. Poetry, if it is not to caricature or betray itself, needs to involve critical commitment to both the past and future history of ‘all humanity’, and all nature. 3. Reading Paz this way moves (re-turns) us to the vatic and shamanic origins of poetry and to the Orphic responsibilities that Blake and Shelley were the last English poets to advocate with wholehearted spirit and sustained devotion. 4. Languages have gaps and holes and render reality imperfectly. To make a poem, a poet needs to travel through them into silence and to return through them from silence back into language: to test (tear) the boundaries between language and silence. 5. Poetry is a challenge to mortality and a criticism of Death. Crossing deaths, poems are spacetime-travellers: they encapsulate a non-self-defeating irony, the only defeat Death might admit, if Death had words. 6. We might learn our theory and practice from a Southern African word: Archbishop Desmond Tutu writes: 'the word Ubuntu ... speaks about the essence of being human: that my humanity is caught up in your humanity because we say a person is a person through other persons.' (1998).