Neeli Cherkovski

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Neeli Cherkovski
Nelson Innis Cherry

1945 (age 72–73)
ResidenceSan Francisco
OccupationWriter, poet

Neeli Cherkovski (born Nelson Cherry on July 1, 1945) is an American poet and memoirist, who has resided since 1975 in San Francisco.


Born in Santa Monica, California, Cherkovski grew up in San Bernardino, California. In the 1970s he was a political consultant in the Riverside area, who came to San Francisco to work on the staff of then-State Senator George Moscone. Cherkovski has written biographies of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Charles Bukowski,[1] with whom he co-edited the Los Angeles zine Laugh Literary and Man the Humping Guns..[2] Cherkovski produced the first San Francisco Poetry Festival, and in the early-1990s helped to found Café Arts Month, a yearly event celebrating San Francisco's café culture.

Poetry critic Gerald Nicosia said of Cherkovski: " the end, what stamps Cherkovski’s poetry as unique is its unbounded lyricism, a lyrical gift easily greater than that of any other poet of his generation."[3]

Cherkovski is the author of Whitman's Wild Children, a collection of essays about twelve poets he has known: Michael McClure, Charles Bukowski, John Wieners, James Broughton, Philip Lamantia, Bob Kaufman, Allen Ginsberg, William Everson, Gregory Corso, Harold Norse, Jack Micheline, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. This book combines biography, personal stories, and poetry analyses.

Cherkovski was a writer-in-residence at the New College of California in San Francisco.[citation needed] He taught literature and philosophy there until the school closed in 2008. His body of poetry includes Animal, Elegy for Bob Kaufman and Leaning Against Time, for which he was awarded the 15th Annual PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award in 2005. In 2017 he was awarded the Jack Mueller Poetry Prize by Lithic Press. Cherkovski's papers are housed at the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.


  • Don't Make a Move (Tecumseh Press, 1974)
  • The Waters Reborn (Red Hill Press, 1975)
  • Public Notice (Beatitude, 1975)
  • Ferlinghetti, a biography (DoubleDay, 1979)
  • Love Proof (Green Light Press, 1980)
  • Juggler Within (Harwood Alley Monographs, 1983)
  • Clear Wind (Avant Books, 1984)
  • Whitman's Wild Children (Lapis Press, 1989)
  • Hank: The Life of Charles Bukowski (Random House, 1991)
  • Animal (Pantograph Press, 1996)
  • Elegy for Bob Kaufman (Sun Dog Press, 1996)
  • Leaning Against Time (R.L. Crow Publications, 2004)
  • Naming the Nameless (Sore Dove Press, 2004)
  • From the Canyon Outward (R.L. Crow Publications, 2009)]
  • From the Middle Woods (New Native Press, 2011)
  • Manila Poems (Bottle of Smoke Press, 2013)
  • Elegy for My Beat Generation (Lithic Press, 2018)


  1. ^ Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ R.L. Crow Publications.
  3. ^ Nicosia, Gerald (May 8, 2005) "Fear not, Ferlinghetti." San Francisco Chronicle.

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