|Born||Jacqueline Lisa Berger
November 30, 1960
Jacqueline Lisa Berger (born November 30, 1960) is an American poet and director of the graduate English program at Notre Dame de Namur University in California. She is the author of three books of narrative poetry: The Mythologies of Danger (1997), Things That Burn (2005), and The Gift That Arrives Broken (2010). Her work is concerned with the themes of desire and loss.
Berger was born in Los Angeles and received her BA in English from Goddard College in 1982. She studied under Olga Burmas and Jane Miller at Goddard, and later became interested in free writing and attended the Freehand Women's Writing Community in Massachusetts. Berger obtained her MFA from Mills College in 1995.
Since the late 1990s, she has been the Program Director for the Master of Arts in English at Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) in Belmont, California. Berger is also an assistant professor and director of the writing center at NDNU and teaches writing at City College of San Francisco. She draws inspiration from the dependent relationship between her teaching and writing career: "I really adore teaching, and it certainly inspires me. And I couldn’t teach writing if I didn't write. So the two certainly work together."
In the mid-2000s, she participated in the Changing Lives Through Literature program, teaching prisoners at the San Mateo Women's Correctional Facility.
She married technical writer Jeffrey Erickson in 2004.
Her poetry has been published in two anthologies of American literature: "Grandfather" was included in On the Verge: Emerging Poets and Artists (1995); "Getting to Know Her", "The Gun", and "Between Worlds" were published in American Poetry: The Next Generation (2000). Berger's poems have also appeared in Patterson Literary Review, Poetry Flash, Rhino Poetry and River Styx Magazine.
Her first book of poetry, The Mythologies of Danger (1997), won the Bluestem Poetry Award and the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association Award. American author Alberto Ríos, the final judge at the Bluestem competition, described Mythologies of Danger as "poems of immediate human energy and willful edge...Always bold but always thoughtful too...a smart, compelling move into the speaker's world of charged moments, sparks, which here are always dangerous and ingenuously engaging."
Things That Burn (2005), her second book of poetry, was awarded the 2004 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry by Mark Strand, United States Poet Laureate (1990–1991). It was published by the University of Utah Press in 2004. In Things That Burn, Berger uses narrative poetry to explore the ambient nature of feeling: "I want to use both story and language to enter the place where experience is atmospheric—the blue or red smoke of the soul, if you will."
Her third book, The Gift That Arrives Broken (2010), won the Autumn House Poetry Award. The title originates from a deleted line in a poem that reflected a new closeness with her family at a time when her mother and father were both ill.
Berger is an advocate of the free writing technique for generating initial ideas in a notebook followed later by a separate, secondary process of using the computer to shape and refine the poem. She believes that the writing process is similar to the dream experience that occurs during sleep. For Berger, the writer doesn't consciously choose a topic to write about in as much as the material simply comes when the time is right:
We don't go to bed at night with an idea of what we're going to dream about. It's a very strange and mysterious and unconscious process...you have weird dreams that appear out of left field and we don't control it. I really do think that writing is much the same. I generate all my material through free writing, which is pouring things out in a notebook. And I just don't know what's going to pop-out.
- "At the Holiday Crafts Fair". The Iowa Review (University of Iowa) 35 (3): 57–58. Winter 2005/2006. ISSN 0021-065X.
- "Gin". The Iowa Review (University of Iowa) 35 (3): 59–60. Winter 2005/2006. ISSN 0021-065X.
- "The Weight of Blood". The Iowa Review (University of Iowa) 35 (3): 61–62. Winter 2005/2006. ISSN 0021-065X.
- "The Routine After Forty". Paterson Literary Review (Passaic County Community College) 291 (2): 6. Mar/Apr 2006. ISSN 0029-2397.
- "The Gift That Arrives Broken". Paterson Literary Review (Passaic County Community College) (35): 318. 2006. ISSN 0743-2259.
- "What is There". Southern Poetry Review (Armstrong Atlantic State University) 44 (1): 10–11. 2006. ISSN 0038-447X.
- Date information sourced from Library of Congress Authorities data, via corresponding WorldCat Identities linked authority file (LAF) .
- Goddard College (Spring 2010). "Alumni/ae portfolio". Clockworks (Goddard College): 14. full issue
- Raab, Zara (2011-04-15). "An interview with Jacqueline Berger, award-winning poetry author". Writing Around The Bay. San Francisco Book Review.
- Mills College (2011-03-02). "MFA Alumni". Mills College.
- Paegle, Julie (Spring 2005). "Bookshelf: Write to Me". Continuum (University of Utah) 14 (4).
- Karoly, Claire; Nichols, Kaylee; Smith, Kate (Spring 2010). "Faculty Spotlight: Jacqueline Berger NDNU's Unofficial Poet Laureate". In Richard Rossi. NDNU Magazine (Notre Dame de Namur University) 3 (1): 12–13.
- Bluestem Press (1997). "1997 Winner The Mythologies of Danger by Jacqueline Berger". Emporia State University.
- Kipen, David (1999-03-29). "Hochschild, Chang Win Local Awards". San Francisco Chronicle. p. E3. See also: "Northern California Book Awards". Poetry Flash.
- Hartig, Jean (2010). "Autumn House Press". Poets & Writers Magazine 38 (1): 105. For a review of The Gift That Arrives Broken, see: Raab, Zara (2010-11-11). "Fables of Contemporary Life". Center for Literary Publishing. Colorado State University.
- Grahm-Smith, Sheila (2010-07-21). "Jacqueline Berger - The Gift That Arrives Broken". The Tangerine Tree Review.
- Beatty 2010: "For myself and probably for a lot of other writers, we simply don't choose our material. I think in this way writing is very much like dreaming. We don't go to bed at night with an idea of what we're going to dream about. It's a very strange and mysterious and unconscious process. Thirty years ago, twenty years ago, ten years ago, I could have talked your ear off about my mother but I could not have written about her. And then, suddenly, the material came. Things circle around, they appear on the page when they do, on their own time in a sense...everybody can relate to that in terms of dreaming; you have weird dreams that appear out of left field and we don't control it. I really do think that writing is much the same. I generate all my material through free writing, which is pouring things out in a notebook. And I just don't know what's going to pop out." Event occurs from 11:20-12:23. See: Beatty, Jan (2010-01-05). "Jacqueline Berger". Prosody (Podcast). WYEP-FM. Retrieved 2011-04-14. Prosody episode includes a reading of "The Magic Show", "My Mother's Refrigerator", "The Routine After Forty", "Cigarettes", "At the Holiday Crafts Fair", "Gin", and "Good".
- Kale, Tessa; Edith Granger, ed. (2002). The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry in Anthologies. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-12448-1.