“A twenty first century William Carlos Williams.” –Booklist
“Berlin’s writing sheds all doctrines and poses. He seems to me to be a person who is living his whole life in an effort to find something, which can never be located or described. In one of those beautiful passages that left me breathless, Berlin writes, ‘a doctor becomes/like a man who has spent sixty years/on a lobster boat, watching the world/swim fast and shining, right before his eyes.’ These lines, like much of Berlin’s poetry, seem to be about the revelation that emerges at the edge between our knowledge of the world, provided to us by science or maturation, and the chaotic understructure that throws up in front of us surprises that are both wanted and unwanted.
Berlin has mastered a crisp, narrative style, etching descriptions with brevity and clarity. For example, the poem ‘Brought by Police from the Golden Gate Bridge’ describes the horrible repetitive suicide cases of nearly dead but still living patients. Alongside the storyteller, we encounter a doctor . . . who descends into darkness in order to find light. In ‘Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy’ the doctor-speaker encounters ‘another broken heart’s/beaten down story of futility and resilience.’ Berlin seems to live with the courage of undaunted individualism, and unusual honesty . . . as in ‘Midnight Rounds,’ he describes patients in a hospital at midnight, ‘their shriveled skin/ like moldy frescoes in an untended church/ after the faithful leave for another god.’
Practice contains the poems of a sturdy, unadorned man who is not hiding behind anything, and who is not driven towards something. He is standing there observing, feeling, and interpreting the world to a broad audience of intimate listeners. He describes himself so evocatively as anxious while on vacation, ‘I can be at peace/ when I am with my patients or at home . . . ’ He might have added that his fate, as it emerges in the poems in this book, is in the orientation to life that words expose when they reveal truths that spring up inside of coherent, beautiful language.”
–Paul R. Fleischman, author of Wonder: When and Why the World Appears Radiant and other books
“To read a selection of poems, click HERE“