The Silent Art
Winner of the Gival Press Poetry Award - 2010
"Clifford Bernier's The Silent Art takes us on a journey through countries, landscapes, musical forms and states of mind. Rivers flow through these places to the beat of conga drums, the wail of an alto sax and the voice of a woman singing scat. To read these poems is to enter a work of expressionist art. We might not always know what we're seeing, and may even find ourselves a bit lost on unfamiliar terrain, yet, in the moments we spend with these poems, we cannot imagine being anywhere else or having any other guide but Bernier. Eventually, our souls catch up with each of these poems, and we are left transformed, knowing a little bit more about this universe than when we started. In that sense, these are ideal poems 'uttered in the ideal way/at the ideal time/ by the ideal/ one." —Judith Valente, correspondent, PBS-TV; co-editor, Twenty Poems to Nourish Your Soul; author of Discovering Moons
"Like musicians, poets strive for clarity, originality and perfect pitch. Clifford Bernier's The Silent Art provides us with a bumper crop of each. As lovers of either genre well know, this is no small achievement. The poems found within this volume consistently walk the very fine lines between lyricism and conviction-detail and surprise. They embody Ezra Pound's directive to those who toil in the poetic vineyard: 'Make It New!' His portraits of John Coltrane and Charles Mingus successfully embody each man's essence, while successfully avoiding the cliches that often torpedo far too many literary portraits of these masters. And while these poems demand our full attention, they are as accessible and as moving as a walk in the forest. Let this music in your life." —Reuben Jackson
"Clifford Bernier is the consummate performance artist who harmonizes imagery with syncopated language to break through the silence of the page. Make no mistake, The Silent Art is a full-blown concert." —Karren L. Alenier, author of Gertrude Stein Invents a Jump Early On
"Clifford Bernier's The Silent Art is a beautiful jazz symphony sweetened with the zen of everydayness and a 'double bass blues for Trane.' Mr. Bernier is a wonderful poet with a musical soul as deep as Mingus. Ah Um indeed. This cat has great chops in the poetry and jazz of life." —M.L. Liebler, poet and editor of Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams
Clifford Bernier is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Earth Suite, The Montserrat Review’s Best Chapbook Summer 2010 and recently nominated for a Library of Virginia award, and Dark Berries, one of The Montserrat Review’s Best Books for Spring Reading 2010. In January 2010 he appeared on the National Public Radio show “The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress.” He has published in the Potomac Review, The Baltimore Review, the online journals Notjustair and Innisfree, and elsewhere, and is featured on a CD of poetry duets, "Poetry in Black and White," as well as on two jazzpoetry CDs, "Live at IOTA Club and Cafe" and "Live at Bistro Europa." He is anthologized in the anthology "Ars Poetica." Bernier has been featured in readings in San Francisco, Seattle, Buffalo, Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and the Washington, DC area, including the Library of Congress, the Arts Club of Washington, George Washington University (where he is a member of the Washington Writer’s Collection) and the Writer's Center. He is founder and former host of the Washington, DC-area poetry reading series, Poesis. He has been a reader for the Washington Prize and a judge for the National Endowment for the Arts' Poetry Out Loud recitation contest. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net Award.