Charles Bernstein teaches poetry and poetics, with an emphasis on modernist and contemporary art, aesthetics, and performance.
Bernstein has published four collections of essays — The Attack of the Difficult Poems: Essays and Inventions (Chicago, 2011), My Way: Speeches and Poems (Chicago, 1999), A Poetics (Harvard, 1992), and Content's Dream: Essays 1975-1984 (Sun & Moon, 1985; rpt Northwestern, 2001). He is the author of over twenty collections of poetry, including All the Whiskey in Heaven: Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Girly Man (Chicago, 2006), With Strings (Chicago, 2001), and Republics of Reality: 1975 - 1995 (Sun & Moon, 2000). Recalculating, new poems, is due out in Spring 2013 from Chicago. His libretto Shadowtime, for composer Brian Ferneyhough, was published in 2005 by Green Integer; it was performed as part of the 2005 Lincoln Center Festival. Bernstein is the editor of several collections, including: American Poetry after 1975 (Duke University Press / special issue of boundary, 2009), Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word (Oxford, 1999), The Politics of Poetic Form: Poetry and Public Policy (Roof, 1990), and the poetics magazine L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, whose first issue was published in 1978. He is editor of the Electronic Poetry Center and co-director (with Al Flireis) of PennSound.
He has collaborated painters Susan Bee, Mimi Gross, Amy Sillman, and Richard Tuttle on several artist's books and projects. In 2001, he curated Poetry Plastique, a show of visual and sculptural poetry at the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York.
Bernstein, who was born in 1950, grew up on the upper West Side of Manhattan and attended the Bronx High School of Science. He graduated from Harvard College, after which he worked for many years as a freelance medical/healthcare writer. From 1989 to 2003, he taught at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he was co-founder and Director of the Poetics Program and a SUNY Distinguished Professor. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and of the Roy Harvey Pearce/Archive for New Poetry Prize of the University of California, San Diego; for lifetime contribution to poetry and scholarship. In 2006 he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.