Harman Writer-In-Residence, Fall 2003
April Bernard, a poet, novelist and essayist, is the Fall 2003 Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence at Baruch College. Swan Electric, her critically acclaimed third collection of poems, is just out in paperback from W.W. Norton. Her first book, Blackbird Bye Bye, won the Academy of American Poets Walt Whitman Prize and was published by Random House in 1989. The following year, W.W. Norton published her novel Pirate Jenny and later brought out her second poetry volume, Psalms, which received wide praise and was named one of the twenty-five “Best Books of the Year” by The Village Voice in 1993.
Ms. Bernard was born and raised in New England; she received her BA from Harvard University and subsequently worked for many years in magazine and book publishing in New York City, holding senior editor positions at such publications as Vanity Fair, Premiere, and Manhattan, inc. In the early 1990s, she began teaching full-time—first as Visiting Writer at Amherst College; and currently at Bennington College in Vermont, where she is also on the faculty of the MFA writing program. Along the way, she has published many essays—book reviews for The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, and The New York Times Book Review; as well as essays on subjects ranging from travel to television to God, for a range of journals and anthologies. She received a 2003 Guggenheim grant in poetry. (July 2003)
Song of Yes and No
How tough and paradoxical and worldly we were;
how still in love with the tuneful
and the heartbroken, but that was before
we had any idea what heartbroken was.
Now that I do, as I remember, the music
that swells beneath me is Mozart’s,
those icy cosmic jests, the fixed fates
of lovers who betray and the world that spins forward
mechanically, no matter
what the price, as money itself grinds forward
and leaves the sparrow pulped beneath the taxi tire,
get used to it
and hear meanwhile the soaring soprano
who sings her own sweet “yes”
and will change it in the next line
because Lorenzo Da Ponte always tied the knot
in such a way that the bow, so big and pretty,
might yet slip.
–From Swan Electric
April Bernard received the 2006 Stover Memorial Prize in Poetry. Her poems have most recently appeared in publications such as The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. Her new collection, Romanticism (2009), explores and challenges the central ideas of high Romanticism. Bernard teaches in the MFA program at Bennington College, and is the Director of Creative Writing at Skidmore College. (June 2009)