San Francisco's Wild History Groove
Swinging in the Shadows (Part Two)
A conversation between Bill Berkson and David Meltzer was videotaped in 2006 to be used as an added bonus to the DVD of the completed Two-Part Series, Swinging in the Shadows. In their dialogue they bring out how this period is viewed and understood today.
Bill Berkson, while very knowledgeable about this time and place, was living in New York City during the 50s and 60s, coming to Northern California in 1970. His friends in New York City were writers, Frank O’Hara, Allen Ginsberg, and artist, Philip Guston, to name a few of his associates there.
David Meltzer was a central part of the California poetry scene. First of all, while living in Los Angeles during the 50s, he hung out with the underground core. Then, in 1957, he moved to San Francisco and was part of its renaissance, reading his poetry in North Beach hangouts and galleries throughout the city.
Bill Berkson and David Meltzer, both have common experiences but from different perspectives—Berkson from the East Coast and Meltzer from the West Coast. They discuss how this period affected them in the 50s/60s and answer the question of “how it has all turned out”--why the influence from the Beat Era has survived to this day.
Bill Berkson (Poet/Writer/Art Critic/Curator)
The art and poetry connection has been the focus of much of Bill Berkson’s writing. After graduating from college, he began writing in his two fields of expertise—poetry and art. He was an editorial associate at Art News and a regular contributor to Arts as well as guest editor at the Museum of Modern Art while living in New York City. After moving to Northern California, he continued writing poetry as well as contributing monthly reviews and articles to Artforum and Art in America. In 2002 he was on the editorial board of Modern Painters. Over the years, Bill has taught art history, writing and poetry at several institutions and was Director of Letters and Science at the San Francisco Art Institute for most of the 90s. Berkson published a collection of his art criticism, “The Sweet Singer of Modernism and Other Art Writings” in 2004. His
distinguished career ended with his death in 2016.