- Saigon Cemetery (1972)
- Jawbone (1978)
- Divorce Boxing (1998)
- The Vietnam Ecclesiastes (2007)
by Megan Few (SHS)
The poet David Chapman Berry, Jr., was born on July 23, 1942, in Vicksburg, Mississippi (Bellande 2) to David and Annette Berry (Berry 1). Berry has a younger sister, Betty Berry, who was born in 1946. David Berry’s family moved to Greenville, Mississippi, in the late forties or early fifties, where Berry attended high school and lived at 1443 Highway One South. David’s father managed several gas stations and was a very humorous man. David’s mother, Annette, was pensive and thoughtful. David’s father died around 1984, and his mother around 1991 (Drew 1).
Berry says that he began writing poetry in ninth grade due to boredom in church (Berry 1). In high school, Berry was an excellent student, who was active in the school chorus and school plays during his senior year. He graduated from Greenville High School in June of 1960 and attended Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, in the fall of 1960. While in college, Berry joined the literary fraternity Chi Delta Theta and played intramural soccer and basketball.
During the summer vacation, David Berry enjoyed reading, writing, and playing tenor guitar. He worked at many jobs during college, including service station manager, survey party rodman, construction inspector, and towboat deck hand. Berry graduated from Jones in June of 1964 with a double major in mathematics and biology (Drew 3). He had also met by this time and planned to marry Terri Stoutenborough, of Decatur, Illinois, in the summer of 1965.
After graduating from Jones, David Berry remained in Greenville, Mississippi, during the school year of 1964-1965, commuting to and from Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, studying pre-med courses and English and creative writing. He also took a job in the emergency room of Greenville’s General Hospital, sparking an interest in a career in medicine and causing him to apply to Ole Miss’s medical school. However, in the summer of 1965, Berry married Terri Stoutenborough and moved to Flint, Michigan. where he worked in the General Motors management trainee program.
In the Summer of 1966, David Berry was drafted into the United States Army. During Berry’s time in Vietnam, he worked as a medic, played volleyball, and wrote poetry. Although his first major work is called Saigon Cemetery (1972), Berry says that his experiences in Vietnam were not the inspiration for the book of poems. In fact, he says, “I made all that up during lunch breaks before taking a nap. I was in a safe place.” He says that he wrote for two reason: boredom and emotional conflicts in Vietnam (Berry 1).
David Berry studied at the University of Tennessee after his return from Vietnam in 1973 (Bellande 3). While there, he earned a Ph. D. in English. However, he ended up divorcing Terri. Later he married and then divorced a woman named Anne as well. Anne and he had a son, David C. Berry III.
In 1985, Berry married Sarah Adele Rawls, from Columbia, Mississippi, whom he had met at Southern. They later had a son named Hays, who was born in September of 1986 (Drew 7).
David Berry wrote the book Jawbone, which was published in 1978 (Bellande 3). He also wrote the collection of poetry entitled Divorce Boxing (1998). Berry has released two editions of this book since 1998 (Bellande 3). He says his inspiration for this book came from his own personal experience with two divorces (Berry 1).
David Berry has received many distinguished awards in his career. These include three excellence-in-teaching awards at University of Southern Mississippi, the Charles Moorman Distinguished Professor in Humanities award at University of Southern Mississippi (Bellande 3), the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Award in May, 2000, the Florida Review Editor’s Prize, and the Southern Federation of State Arts Agencies Poetry Award (Berry 1). David Berry is currently working as an English professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where he is also the poetry editor of the journal Mississippi Review (Abbott 383).
In his spare time, Berry enjoys sculpting, playing basketball, (Berry 1) and being a multimedia artist (Bellande 3). When asked if he plans on writing any more books, Berry’s reply is simply, “Yes.” David Berry has one piece of advice for future writers, “Read, write, and erase” (Berry 1).
UPDATE: D. C. Berry is now a retired professor of English at the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. In June of 2007, he published his fourth major collection of poems, The Vietnam Ecclesiastes, which is comedy and criticism of the absurdity of war. He lives in Columbia, Mississippi.
A Review of Divorce Boxing
by Megan Few (SHS)
David Berry’s book Divorce Boxing is a compilation of several poems. The book is divided into three parts: DIVORCED, MARRIED, and DIVORCED. The first section is a series of poems about various things. Most of these poems dip into little relationships that Berry experienced after his divorce. Others are about different occasions and experiences that Berry had. The second section of the book is called “Marriage.” This section of the book has a sort of different twist. The poems are more about what led up to the next divorce and the problems he was experiencing. This section also deals with the death of Berry’s father and the struggle his mother is facing with cancer. This section of the book tends to be on a more emotional level. The third section of the book is called “Divorced.” This section is mainly reminiscing about the second divorce and how it affects every day life. Berry talks about his ex-wife and about the way that life is surprisingly different after just having been through a divorce. The poems are very compelling because you are walked through many of the emotional events that humans are faced with every day: divorce, death, and heartache. David Berry’s creative language and compelling words embrace you, and you seem to follow his life through his poetry.
By Megan Few (SHS)
- What were your parents’ names?
David and Annette Berry
- Where did you go to high school?
- What was the main inspiration for your poetry?
- Who is your favorite author?
- Why did you decide to write about divorce?
I’m an expert; I’ve had two of them.
- When did you become interested in writing and why?
Ninth grade, in church, I was bored.
- What kind of student were you in high school?
Average and invisible
- Do you plan on writing any more books?
- Have you received any awards other than excellence in teaching and the Charles Moorman Distinguished Professor in Humanities award?
Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters, Poetry Award this past May, FLORIDA REVIEW Editor’s Prize. Southern Federation of State Arts Agencies, Poetry Award.
- Do you have any advice for future writers?
Read, write, and erase.
- Do you have any advice for students today?
Same as above.
- How has living in Mississippi influenced your writing?
Hasn’t, that I know of.
- Was your experience in Vietnam the influence for Saigon Cemetery?
No, I made all that up during lunch breaks before taking a nap. I was in a safe place.
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
Email Interview with Dan Drew, a friend of David Chapman Berry’s since Childhood
From Dan Drew
Sent: Thursday, May 04, 2000 1:37 a.m.
To: Megan Few
Subject: David C. Berry…
Here’s one man’s history of David Berry, based upon facts that just seem to stick in my trivia-filled mind; not that Berry is trivial, of course (ha!).
D. C. Berry (Dr. David Chapman Berry, Jr.) was born 07-23-42 in Vicksburg, Mississippi to David C., Sr. and Annette Berry. David has a younger sister, Betty, who was born approximately 1946 (since she graduated Greenville High School school in 1964).
The family moved to Greenville, Mississippi, either in the late ’40s or early ’50s, living at 1443 Highway 1 South. David Sr. managed several gas stations, and was a quiet but humorous man. Annette was pensive and thoughtful. David Sr. died circa 1984 and Annette died circa 1991. Betty married Leslie Wright in 1964, they have one son, Leslie, Jr., who is about 30 years old. Leslie and Betty live in Greenville.
David would have been junior high-age when I first became aware of his presence. I gauge this based upon the fact that my family began attending the same church as his in 1954, at which time I was entering first grade, and I was born 6 years after David.
In our church, during the ’50s, was a group of “young people”; energetic teenagers in perpetual motion. Among the names were: David Berry, Joe Myers, Willard Gowdy, Sandy Johnson, Billy Kahlstorf, David Barnes, Johnny Rushin, Butch Kelly, Duke Jones, Billy Smith, Steve Smith, Gloria Lee, Sarah Burt, Ann Hall, Janice and Judy Rodney, and several others.
Berry, Gowdy, Jones, Johnson, Kahlstorf and Barnes were a tight and rowdy group. I have mental images and recollections of this notorious gang, which accounted for many gray hairs in heads of church parents:
1) Between Sunday School and church, on Sunday AM, these guys would high-tail out of the parking lot in Myers’ ’38 convertible Dodge, and go to nearby Pollie Ann Sundries, to buy candy, soda pop, look at magazines, etc. They apparently would watch the clock carefully, making it back just in time to come barrelling into the sanctuary, then tromping down the north side aisle to their perch in the front left, just seconds before the service
2) They would, during church, take their pocketknives and carve pictures and initials into the yellow paint of the pew in front of them. Since they worked rather surreptitiously, no one ever actually saw them carving
anything, but the artwork remained on display as a testament to their diligence, nonetheless.
3) After church, on Sunday evenings, they would barrel out the rear sanctuary door, jump into their cars and screech off into the night. Berry later told me that occasionally, they would take Gowdy’s dad’s station wagon to Myers’ dad’s taxi cab garage, pull the muffler off of it, then drive it down to the Monkey Store, south of Greenville, and race it to the Mississippi River Bridge, some 7 miles to the west. They would place quarter bets among themselves to see how fast they could get the station wagon to travel, before heading back to the garage to reinstall the muffler.
4) Once (or more than once?) they purchased a package of “Fizzies”, tablets that fizzed with flavor when dropped into a glass of water, crumpled the tablets and dropped them into the communion tray cups in church, so that the cups of grape juice looked like small geysers as the tray was passed among the pews.
In Greenville High School, Berry was an excellent student, and as a lark, joined the school chorus his senior year, 1959-1960. Berry was the policeman in the senior play “Arsenic and Old Lace”, and looked very much the part, with his dark complexion and heavily bearded face. In high school, Berry drove a black 1950 Ford.
Myers and Berry graduated high school together, June 1960. Myers should have graduated a year earlier, but due to non-study, high school required 5 years out of him. Myers wanted to go to college at Ole Miss, but his parents decided that he needed more maintenance work, discipline-wise, and struck a bargain with him: Myers’ folks would buy him a 1960 Chevrolet Impala if he would attend Bob Jones University (Jones), in Greenville, South Carolina.
Whether Berry had done any exploratory work regarding which college to attend, I do not know, I’ve never asked him. Having been a diligent student, he was surely interested in college and it would make sense that he researched various universities and colleges. In any event, he followed Myers to Jones, in the fall of 1960.
Both Berry and Myers became “cool” at Jones. They joined the same literary fraternity, Chi Delta Theta, played intramural soccer and basketball (Berry played basketball), began dressing like Ivy Leaguers, made friends with students from all over the United States, taught themselves to play banjo and guitar, took a liking to folk music and overall gained a college-like exuberance. When they came home during the summer vacation, they would speak of two of their closest school buddies, who lived in Ohio, Virgil DeLameter and Pete Ramsay.
During summer vacation, Berry tirelessly wrote and read, collected and played folk music albums, played his tenor guitar at hootenannies on Sunday evenings and spoke longingly of wanting to go back to college and “learn some more”. He would tell us high schoolers something of what college and dorm life was like, and it sounded interesting, different and exciting to us.
During the summers of 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1964, Berry’s summer vacation employment consisted of service station manager, survey party rodman, construction inspector and towboat deck hand. Berry graduated Jones June 1964, with a double major in mathematics and biology. He had met and was engaged to one Terri Stoutenborough, of Decatur, Illinois, and they planned to marry summer 1965.
After graduating Jones, Berry remained in Greenville, Mississippi during the school year 1964-1965, commuting to/from Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, studying pre-med courses and English/creative writing. In addition, he took a job in the emergency room of Greenville’s General Hospital, and had his eye on a career in medicine, thinking briefly of going on to Ole Miss’ medical school.
While he was in town for a year, after having come home from Jones, we high schoolers took him in as one of us. He would go joy riding with us, camping with us, he would play guitars and sing folk songs with us, and he would converse with us about his reading and thinking. It seemed as though the required reading he had incurred in college had triggered a curiosity to pursue further reading, in various areas. I began to see Berry as a scholar, and an independent thinker. He was beginning to write letters to the newspaper editor, on occasion, demonstrating the worthiness of his opinions.
Berry had begun keeping a log, or journal, of various experiences, almost as a voyeur of the human condition, and I noticed what he wrote were chiefly the impressions that observed phenomena had upon him. It was as though Berry had discovered that his life was a canvas, and that he was enjoying letting the paint of experience hit him, then giving expression of this in words and opinions. He was becoming a thinker.
One Sunday evening during the winter of 1964-1965, 3 of us decided to visit a pentecostal church to see what this particular allegedly hyperactive denomination actually did during one of their church services. During the church service, which involved a lot of musical performances by the church parishioners, Berry took notes in his journal, while my friend and I were basically entertained by the rather active style of worship.
About this time, Berry had several expressions, which he used quite a bit. He had picked up the phrase “…played the harlot…”, either from the Bible or Shakespeare, or both; the phrase referring to someone having been defrauded or tricked. While fishing, he would lose his bait and say “Look, I played the harlot with that bass fish…he took my bait”. Another favorite term of his was “hammer” or “hammerhead”, which he generally used in reference to men and/or masculine-related matters. Instead of saying “Yes, that’s correct”, Berry would say “Char-ray”. I’ve never been sure what the source of “Char-ray” was, unless it was a pidgen-French pronunciation of the word “correct”.
Berry made a trip to Decatur, Illinois during the summer of 1965, to see his future bride, Terri. He told us that downtown Decatur was built around a square and every Sunday afternoon, the residents of the town would socialize by slowly circling the square in cars or on bicycle, talking to persons in an adjoining car, or on another bicycle, for 15 minutes or so, then finding another car/bicycle and pulling up alongside to do the same all over again. Berry, being the new guy in town, put on sunshades and perched leaning against a parking meter. Apparently, there was a buzz among the residents as to who the new stranger was, so they began waving at him. Berry got into his beatnik mode and slowly gave a pope-like wave in return. Someone loaned Berry a bicycle, so he eventually joined in the social procession.
To this day, I’ve always wanted to go to Decatur, just to see the town square that Berry mentioned to us back in 1965.
After the wedding, Berry and Terri moved to Flint, Michigan, summer 1965, and bought a 1965 metallic purple Chevrolet Impala, with spinners on the wheels (very important at that time to Berry). Terri’s uncle, or some relative, had a job in human resources with General Motors, and through this connection, Berry got a job in the General Motors management trainee program. Also, at this time, Berry’s folks moved to Pontiac, Michigan for a year, while renting out their Mississippi home. Myers had married, as well, and lived in nearby Toledo, Ohio, some 100 miles to the south of Flint, working as an accountant with Houghton Elevator Company. The Berry and Myers couples would get together several times to ski, socialize, etc.
Summer 1966, Berry was drafted into the US Army. From what Berry later told me in 1979, Vietnam had been a good excuse to leave corporate and regimented General Motors; the Army had made a decision that Berry would have otherwise been somewhat reluctant to make. David told me “In the GM management program, we would visit a department for a while, to learn what that department did, and we would tour various locations of the plant…for instance, on a given morning we might visit a railroad siding and the plant manager would explain to the trainees ‘Every Monday morning, GM loads into rail cars and ships 10,000 fenders from this warehouse’. I thought: so what? That doesn’t do my soul any good”. His example was such a succinct representation of his spiritual values and his realization that true contentment lies not in material possessions. Accordingly, he probably would not have lasted at GM, even if he had not been drafted into the Army in 1966.
I graduated high school June 1966, and had researched several colleges, one of which was Western Kentucky State University, at Bowling Green, but my impression of what college life had done to both Myers and Berry caused me to follow their example and go to Bob Jones University. In addition, Jones had a good business school, and each spring, various corporations and large accounting firms interviewed the school’ s graduating seniors. Plus, it was during the Vietnam War, so I had to get into some college somewhere and stay put, hoping to evade the draft board.
So, after arriving at Jones in fall 1966, who should I run into several weeks later but Berry and wife Terri. The Army had transferred them to North Carolina, and they had driven down to South Carolina for the weekend to visit the Jones campus, Berry had on his green Army uniform, and looked healthy and fit. He gave me his address and I believe I wrote him a letter shortly thereafter. In the spring of 1967, he and Terri and Myers and his wife made a visit to the campus and had spotted me playing right field in a softball game. I heard this incessant cat-calling coming from the nearby hillside, and finally when they mentioned “right field”, I looked up and these 4 loons were perched together making fun of my baseball efforts. It was good to see them again.
The spring of my college sophomore year, I received a letter from San Francisco, California, with Berry’s return address on it. I tore open the mail, and it was Berry writing me from Cam Rahn Bay in South Vietnam. I do not have the letter today, but remember that it was short in length, and that he said that he was working as a medic, playing volleyball and writing poetry. I believe I wrote a reply.
From what I can piece together, chronologically, I think Berry’s one year in Vietnam was roughly from summer 1967 to summer 1968, since I saw him spring 1967, and later at Christmas 1968, after he had returned from Vietnam.
My junior year, during 1968 Christmas holiday vacation back in Greenville, Mississippi, I received a phone call. The voice said “This is ya daddy…whatcha doing, hammerhead?”. It was Berry, in town from Fort Riley, Kansas, where he was stationed, with his wife and almost year old son (David C. Berry III), visiting sister Betty and their folks. I drove over, picked him up and we went riding, talking about the Army, Vietnam, rock and roll, college, etc. We stopped at a restaurant out near the Mississippi River bridge and talked for a long time, then I took him home.
The next I heard of Berry was summer 1972, when my older sister mentioned her having talked with Berry’s in-laws, at some location or another. My sister explained to me that Berry was working on a doctorate at University of Tennessee in Knoxville, sitting in dark rooms writing by candlelight, and that his marriage had become shaky. I felt a sense of urgency and a desire to comfort him, and wrote him a letter, in care of the University of Tennessee’s student post office. He responded, with a brief letter, which I still have, in which he mentioned that the marriage was “patched up”. We exchanged a few letters, and in one of that series, he mentioned that University of Georgia had just agreed to publish his first book SAIGON CEMETERY. A later letter mentioned the possibility of moving to Mississippi Southern College (before it became a university) to take a job teaching.
I moved to California summer 1975, after having graduated Jones 1970, and lived in Atlanta from 1970 to 1975. I was undergoing a bit of soul-searching and career restlessness around 1977 and began wondering whatever became of Berry. I ordered SAIGON CEMETERY from University of Georgia, and sure enough, they mailed it to me, around 1978. February 1979, I picked up the telephone in my Los Angeles apartment, and called Berry’s folks in Mississippi. Berry’s dad answered and I chatted with him a while, then asked if he knew where David was. “He’s about 10 feet from me”, was Mr. Berry’s reply. David came on the line, and we caught up a lot of old news, promising to write. He had just gone through a divorce from his second wife, a lady named Anne, whom he thought a lot of, but who apparently had found temporal joy in the arms of a rock and roll drummer. He had been teaching at University of Southern Mississippi since 1972, he said. It wasn’t a week later that my phone rang and it was Duke Jones. Duke who had learned of my LA whereabouts via his mother, who lived in Florida. The Florida mother had heard of my whereabouts from her having spoken to one Mrs. Langston. I had sent a Christmas card to Mrs. Langston’s granddaughter who lived in Rockford, Illinois, and the granddaughter had informed the grandmother of my w hereabouts. Jones was now living in LA, and working for the Secret Service, during the Iran shah and hostage crisis. I explained to Jones how unusual it was to hear from him, since I’d just phoned Berry a few days prior.
About this time, Berry wrote Jones and me letters, asking if he could spend his spring 1979 sabbatical vacationing in California, splitting his time living with Jones and my wife and me. Are you kidding? Comeawwwwwwwwwwwwwwn! Within a week, Berry and Jones knock on my apartment door. I hadn’t seen these guys in 11 years.
Berry and I had a great time. We drove up to San Francisco for a weekend of touring art galleries, visiting the wharf, Grace Cathedral, Golden Gate Park, all the sites, bicycled the beach bike path of LA, and much more.
We then camped out in Death Valley one weekend, and on the way home via a 2-lane desert route stopped in Nipton, California at a restaurant/bar on a Sunday afternoon. The lady manager asked if we played music. The bar had microphones, an extra guitar and amplifiers. We looked at each other and I told Berry to go get his Martin D28 out of the car. We sat down and played a 1-1/2 hour concert of every song we could think of, including a rousing version of “Will the Circle be Unbroken?” as our encore. The lady took a Polaroid photo of us, and hung it on the wall, along with everyone else who ever performed at her bar. The photo is no doubt still hanging on the bar’s gallery wall.
About this time, JAWBONE, Berry’s second book of poems had just been published by Thunder City Press in Birmingham, Alabama, and he left a copy as a gift to my wife and me, upon his leaving California. I was struck by Berry’s 5-week visit, personally. I say this not in a congratulatory mode or with any ulterior motives. I guess I had not realized how that for years I had been attempting to conform to others’ wishes for my career and for my opinions. It had been a subtle progression, and I had been uncomfortable in several areas of my life, feeling as though I were somewhat a fraud for attempting to live out others’ dreams as though they were mine. I remember Berry answering several of my questions with a simple “I don’t know”, and it had an effect upon me. It made me stop and realize that one doesn’t have to know it all, or strive to know it all; that there is power in honesty and a sense of release and joy in being able to acknowledge your own weaknesses and limitations. His simplicity, humility and honesty were refreshing and educational to me.
I had begun attempting to write poetry, around this time. My goofy poems were stretched out in a cute-like manner across the page, but were not really my own voice. I would send them to Berry, and he would red-ink them. He then told me: “Just write your letters”. What he was telling me was that my natural voice is found in prose and letters. That was a discovery for me: I had never thought of poetry, letters, prose, fiction, non-fiction, plays, etc., as being spokes off the same wheel, and the point of the wheel was to convey an experience to the reader in the most honest manner. Wow! This discovery increased my sense of individuality, and I began to appreciate not only the works of authors, but their letters and biographies as well. The point of all art and literature, became, at least for me, a sharing of the human experience and condition.
About this time, Berry and I were reading Walker Percy, particularly THE MOVIEGOER. I deeply enjoyed this book, as well as reading Ernest Hemingway’s letters, which Berry had recommended to me.
After undergoing a separation/divorce in September 1984, I felt that the lessons I had learned from Berry, literature, art, etc., had allowed me the strength to “play with life” a bit, in order to make it through the tough
times. What I discovered was how universal the subjects of pain and suffering are, on all levels, in this life, and that my little separation/divorce was just a small piece of the greater toil and struggle of our existence as people. If I’d not encountered such truths earlier, I’m quite sure my divorce would have shattered me.
I remember calling Berry the day after my wife left. He later wrote and included the line “Be easy with life; it’s trying”. Immediately, I saw the word “trying” as both a verb and an adjective, making it a pun. Berry said he’d never thought of the word as having two uses. Goes to show you that if you work at literature, sometimes it just flows out of you, and you don’t even realize what’s going on!
I visited Berry Christmas 1984 and again 1985, while in the South. In 1985, he married Sarah Adele Rawls (Saradel), from Columbia, Mississippi, an art major he met at Southern. Their son Hays was born September 1986.
In 1992, I flew to New Orleans, rented a car and attempted to surprise Berry by just showing up at his house, but his wife had tipped him off that I was coming. During my few days there, we cleared the trees and brush from a plot of recently purchased raw land, beside a creek, north of Hattiesburg, on which he intended to move a prefabricated storage shed in order to live in several days per week, in lieu of commuting to Ocean Springs, where he and the family had recently moved, upon selling their Hattiesburg home (would you like to diagram THIS sentence?!!). I said “Guru, you know what this place reminds me of?: Jim Jones and Jonestown (religious cult that built a camp in the jungles of Guyana and ended up committing suicide in 1980)”. Since then, I refer to his Hattiesburg hut as “Little Jonestown”. I think Berry prefers to think of it as a second coming of Thoreau’s Walden Pond, but Thoreau only lived in his shack for a year, I believe, whereas Berry’s been in Jonestown now for 8 years.
From a literary standpoint, it seems to me that Berry enjoys the juxtaposition of phrases and concepts taken out of context, which is sort of what a metaphor does all the time. For instance, when I was undergoing a divorce, he was trying to cheer me up and help me take notice of my new freedom, by saying “Son…a breakup is a break UP” (emphasis on “up”, meaning optimism, etc.). To see a clearing in the woods, which he intended to situate temporal living quarters, and to hear someone make such a savage and gruesome reference to it as “Little Jonestown” is another example that he digs. I’ve seen him compare several times, in his writing, Joseph Conrad’s Captain Ahab with the cartoon character Popeye, which is an example of using the ridiculous (cartoon) to demonstrate the profound (Conrad’s classic tale). As Berry often says, “Tension gets attention”. I added what I refer to as “Drew’s extensions” to this quote: “Traction gets attraction and motion gets emotion”.
As a painter, I understand that. A good painting contrasts dark and light (referred to as “values”); a weak painting melds lukewarm darks and lights and doesn’t hold the viewer’s interest. Same goes for writing.
A good writer SHOWS instead of tells. Berry is always searching for ways to show with images and metaphors a simple observation.
I frankly think that his everyday speech is more poetic than any of his poetry. When we took a broken ceiling fan, which almost fell on me while sleeping in his home, to the hardware store to be repaired, he had several humorous and truthful observations to make of that ordeal. But if he wrote what he spoke, it wouldn’t be poetry; it’s be prose.
To me, a central feature of poetry (versus prose) is the minimizing of communication as tightly as possible into the fewest words and phrases, so that every syllable is critical to conveying the story. But…maybe I’m wrong.
Megan, I hope this helps. If you need anything else, let me know. I’ll fire off a cartoon of “th’ doctor” by this weekend, OK?
- This is a helpful web site from Ole Miss with biographical information.
- Materials pertaining to the writings of USM English professor and poet, Dr. David C. Berry, Jr. The collection includes correspondence, manuscript materials at The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries Special Collections.
- Eight poems by D. C. Berry on American Poems site.
- Abbott, Dorothy, ed. Reflections of Childhood and Youth: Mississippi Writers: Poetry. Volume III. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi; 1988. 26-28.
- “Faculty profile: David Berry.” The Center For Writers. [Online] Available http://sushi.st.usm.edu/mrw/center/fac-dcb.htm
- Bellande, Ray L. Ocean Springs Writers. [Online] Available email:<[email protected]>. <[email protected]>.
- Berry, D. C. Divorce Boxing. Cheney, Washington: Eastern Washington University Press, 1998.
- Berry, David. Berry. [Online] Available email: [email protected] from [email protected]
- Lucas, Sherry. “Institute of Arts and Letters Recognizes Talent in State.” The Clarion-Ledger. 30 April, 2000. 10G.
- Drew, Dan. David C. Berry. [Online] Available email:[email protected] from [email protected]