Nationality: American. Born: Carol Peppis in New York City, 4 October 1928. Education: New York University, 1946–52; New School for Social Research, New York, 1952–54. Family: Married Jack Bergé in 1955; one son. Career: Editorial assistant, Syndicate Publications, Simon and Schuster, Forbes magazine, Hart Publishing Company, and Green-Brodie Advertising, New York, 1950–54; assistant to the president, Pendray Public Relations, New York, 1955. Member, COSMEP, 1971–73. Visiting professor at Thomas Jefferson College, Allendale, Michigan, 1975–76; Goddard College, Asilomar, California, 1976; University of California Extension Program, Berkeley, 1976–77; Indiana University, Summer Writers' Conference, Bloomington, 1977; University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, 1977–78; University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, 1978–79 and 1987; Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, 1979; and State University of New York, Albany, 1981. Editor, CENTER magazine, 1970–85, Mississippi Review, Hattiesburg, 1977–78, and Paper Branches, Albuquerque, 1978–79; contributing editor, Woodstock Poetry Review, New York, 1977–81, Shearsman, 1980–82, Ahsahta Press, Boise, Idaho, 1983, and Southwest Profile, 1983. Founder and proprietor, Blue Gate Gallery of Antiques, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1988–99. Since 1970 editor, CENTER Press and Magazine. Awards: MacDowell fellowship (four times); New York State Council on the Arts grant, for editing, 1971–82 (13 grants), for fiction 1974; National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1979. Address: 2070 Calle Contento, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505, U.S.A.
Four Young Lady Poets, with others, edited by LeRoi Jones. New York, Totem-Corinth, 1962.
The Vulnerable Island. Cleveland, Renegade Press, 1964.
Lumina. Cleveland, 7 Flower Press, 1965.
Poems Made of Skin. Toronto, Weed/Flower Press, 1968.
Circles, As in the Eye. Santa Fe, Desert Review Press, 1969.
An American Romance. Los Angeles, Black Sparrow Press, 1969.
The Chambers. Aylesford Priory, Kent, Aylesford Review Press, 1969.
From a Soft Angle: Poems about Women. Indianapolis, Bobbs, Merrill, 1972.
The Unexpected. Milwaukee, Membrane Press, 1976.
Rituals and Gargoyles. Bowling Green, Ohio, Newedi Press, 1976.
A Song, A Chant. Albuquerque, Amalgamated Sensitivity Publications, 1978.
Alba Genesis. Woodstock, New York, Aesopus Press, 1979.
Alba Nemesis: The China Poems. Albuquerque, Amalgamated Sensitivity Publications, 1979.
Acts of Love: An American Novel. Indianapolis, Bobbs Merrill, 1973.
Secrets, Gossip and Slander. Berkeley, California, Reed and Cannon, 1984.
The Unfolding. New York, Theo Press, 1969.
A Couple Called Moebius. Indianapolis, Bobbs Merrill, 1972.
Timepieces. Union City, California, Fault, 1977.
The Doppler Effect. Berkeley, California, Effie's Press, 1979.
Fierce Metronome: The One-Page Novel and Other Short Fiction. Mount Kisco, New York, Window, 1981.
The Vancouver Report: A Report and Discussion of the Poetry Seminar at the University of British Columbia. New York, Peace Eye, 1964.
Zebras, or, Contour Lines. Bowling Green, Ohio, Tribal/Center Press, 1991.
Editor, The Clock of Moss, by Judson Crews. Boise, Idaho, Ahsahta Press, 1983.*
Manuscript Collection: Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin; Jerome Library, Bowling Green State University, Ohio.
Critical Studies: By Hayden Carruth, in Hudson Review (New York), 1969; Howard McCord, in Measure (Pullman Washington), 1970; by Ishmael Reed, in Post (Washington, D.C.), 1973; "A Plethora of Cultural Detail: Zebras by Carol Berge" by Barry Silesky, in American Book Review, 15(4), October 1993.
Carol Bergé comments:
My poetry, like my fiction, has always dealt in archetypes of human behavior rather than of personal purviews. I am interested in sociological constructs, especially interaction with and response to superimposed forms. I have never been interested in confessional or first-person writings; instead, I have chosen historical perspective. I have not written or published poetry for the past seventeen years. Fiction has absorbed me and attracted my energy, as well as articles about the arts. My major thrusts have been in other fields besides "being a writer" for the past several years. I edit, teach, advise, and do copywriting and other more commercial ventures, often related to my current work as an arts and antiques dealer. This field satisfies my feeling of connection with history, artifacts, and human habits. I am writing a book of fiction (stories) about people in the antiques trade—ANTICS. I am continuing as editor of CENTER Press. I am presently editing and compiling LIGHT YEARS, The N.Y.C. Coffeehouse Poets of the Sixties, an anthology.* * *
Female intensities of wit, of lust, tenderness, the intelligence of the body, its groping, the ravage and despair, and all in language as varied as the weather—this is Carol Bergé's poetry. Whether in her own voice or in those of dozens of personae, her work, foremost and always female, speaks of the terrible endlessness of sexual need, loving, hating, fighting, forgiving:
The women breast to breast across empty
across lava-strewn bitter plains
facing lidless eyes of the majestic surgeons
who demand they empty their wombs
of the quintuplet dolls shaped like "husband"
Women offering full teats to
men with infant faces who drink with mouths
the violet of sleep or of healed circumcision
Bergé's poetry also captures the nuances of observances of self:
when you draw back
as I reach for you
it is an old wound you rip
Bergé can be and often is talkative. Her verse sometimes seems put together from random images, broken by unlikely shifts of tone and texture with little attempt at lyric unity. But her talk is intelligent, tough, urbane, and original. When she breaks through the talk into genuine poems of her own, they are moving and lucid, and they show a degree of maturity that few contemporary poets can approach.