"Because the news of the day distracts me, my recent work is concerned with the current events that ask my writing to speak out of and about this new century of ours. There, where accumulation relies both on a kind of lyricism as well as on devastation, where things and ideas stack up in expected places -- a corner, a flat surface -- and in unexpected ones, amidst objects and ruin, both private and public, my work finds its focus. My current interest in the literal architecture of buildings -- consider the ways in which architecture can sometimes become a public articulation of the predicaments of every day -- shapes my recent writing and teaching. I don't mean to sound dramatic: I do not aim for architectural marvel, do not desire my poems or essays to replicate palace or castle. My writing doesn't hold fast to some dream of itself or to another time. More, like the quirky house where I live, with all its doors and windows, like this old house of mine that believes in symmetry, I want writing to exist in response to the world in which it was built and to be part of that world. I am concerned with questions of voice, what is shaped by region and by landscape, by faith and faithlessness.
I'm interested, too, in the epistolary tradition, the contemporary ekphrastic, collaborations in writing, the Midwest as site and relic, as "museum of antiquated ideas" and museum of the present moment, and the shape and trajectory of 21st century American Literature, particularly in light of natural disasters and human-made catastrophes that have defined our young century. I make poems and essays, and approach my teaching and scholarship with the intention first of demonstrating my genuine curiosity and awe for the things of this world, the things in this world. I try, most of all, to teach poems and essays that are true to the simultaneous tumult and grace of this century, of every century; I try to make poems and essays-and to help my students make poems and essays -- that are true to the simultaneous tumult and grace of this century, of every century."
Years at Knox: 1998 to present
M.F.A., Poetry, 2002, Vermont College.
M.A., Literature and Composition, 1998, Western Illinois University.
B.A., English Writing, 1995, Knox College.
Creative writing: poetry; creative nonfiction; fiction; modern, contemporary, and 21st century American literature.
Verse Daily selected "Dear So-and-So, [Down the hall, the accordion man]" for its "Poem of the Day," January 16, 2012.
Pushcart Nominations for "This Slow Rise"; "Dear So-and-So, [Down the hall, the accordion man]," 2011.
Pushcart Nominations for "[What a year looks like: drenched...]"; "[When the painter arrives the day before]"; "The Eighteenth Week," 2010.
The Thomas R. Hruska Memorial Nonfiction Prize for "The Eighteenth Week," Passages North, April 2009.
Pushcart Nominations for "Nostalgia for a World Where We Can Live" and "Counted Among the Missing," 2009.
Pushcart Nominations for "After Settling" and "If Only Disappearing," 2008.
Young Alumni Achievement Award, Knox College, 2007.
Pushcart Nomination for "Attached to Hands," 2007.
Finalist, Arts & Letters Prize in Poetry, 2005.
Finalist Award, Illinois Arts Council, 2005.
Pushcart Nominations for "About the Nurse in Ob-Gyn," "Updike Arrives in Peoria, the City of Vowels," "The Alphabet," and "Rome, Winter 1967," 2004.
Pushcart Nomination for "Some Kind of Helen," 2003.
Philip Green Wright-Lombard College Prize for Distinguished Teaching, 2003.
Finalist, The Missouri Review's Larry Levis Prize, 2002.
Third Place, Glimmer Train's Poetry Open, for "A Sort of Excavation," 2002.
Finalist, The Comstock Review's Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial Award, for "First Poem for the Disappearing," 2000.
"[Just before the blood draw, the other morning I filled in small]." Hayden's Ferry Review (forthcoming).
"[No apples on the apple tree, and if there were]" and "[Back up to this wind, up against it even, and the recognizable sky]." Crazyhorse (forthcoming).
"[The problem is the revolving door of this city, even you]." The Cincinnati Review (forthcoming).
"The Eighteenth Week" and "On Point of View" in The Borderlands: Explorations at the Fringe of Creative Nonfiction (U of Nebraska P, forthcoming).
"Your Small Towns of Adult Sorrow & Melancholy" in TriQuarterly 142 (2012).
"On 5 x 2, or More on Ten, sort of" in Fifth Wednesday Journal 10 (Spring 2012).
[To scale, yes, days to scale, even when they grow so cluttered]. Rhino (2012).
"This Slow Rise." Diagram 11.6 (2012).
"Dear So-and-So" [Three flights up, with my whole body...]. Witness XXV.1 (2011).
"On Beds, or Where We Sleep." Ninth Letter 8.2 (2011).
"Dear So-and-So" [Down the hall, the accordion man...]. The Southeast Review 29.2 (2011).
"Your Slow Pulse." Third Coast (2010).
"[When the painter arrives the day before]." Memoir (and) 3.1 (2010).
"The Eighteenth Week." Passages North 31.1 (2010).
"[What a year looks like: drenched...]." Third Coast (2010).
"Measure By Hand." New Orleans Review 34.2 (2009).
"Triple Elegy." Rhino (2009).
"Another Ice Age." Tammy (2009).
"What My Body Did" & "If Only Disappearing." Fourteen Hills 15.1 (2009).
"Nostalgia for a World Where We Can Live." Diagram 8.4 (2008).
"Review of Marianne Boruch's Grace, Fallen from." Black Warrior Review (2008).
"Counted Among the Missing." After Hours 16.1 (2008).
"No Blues for Architecture." Midway 4.1 (2007).
"Studies in Modern and Contemporary Fiction: Carole Maso's AVA." Dalkey Archive Press, 2002, 2007.
"After Settling," "Another Disappearing" and "If Only Disappearing." Dislocate 3.1 (2007).
"Attached to Hands." Third Coast (2006).
"Fungus Considered." Manthology: Poems of the Male Experience. University of Iowa Press (2006).
"Abroad,"Untitled:" and "Duo." Horseless Review (2006).
"All Our Secrets Are The Same," Profession (2005).
"What the Doctor Forgot." Artful Dodge 44/45 (2004).
"Fungus Considered." Flyway 8.1 (2003).
"About the Nurse in Ob-Gyn," "Updike Arrives in Peoria, the City of Vowels," "The Alphabet" and "Rome, Winter 1967." The Missouri Review 26.1 (2003).
"Some Kind of Helen." The Southern Indiana Review 9.1 (2002).
"First Poem for the Disappearing." The Comstock Review 14.2 (2000).
Readings at TriQuarterly in Chicago, September 2012; The Book Cellar/Fifth Wednesday Journal in Chicago, November 2011. Kalamazoo Center for the Book/ Third Coast 15th Anniversary Reception, November 2010; The Book Cellar/Fifth Wednesday Journal in Chicago, May 2010; Prairie Lights Books, Iowa City, 2006; Alumni Caxton Club, 2003; Caxton Club, 2002; Vermont College, 2002; Bradley University, 2001.
"All Our Secrets Are the Same: Some Thoughts on Teaching, Eavesdropping and Poetry." Fridays at Four, Knox College, 2004 and Vermont College, 2002.
"Strange the way the joy keeps changing’: Re-reading and Re-Creating AVA’s Desire" presented as part of Panel entitled "Languages and Literacies of Desire in the Novels of Carole Maso" at the National Council of Teachers of English Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, 2002.
"Learn to Love the Spaces Between: Teaching The Silence of Carole Maso" presented as part of Panel entitled "Disruptive Texts, Sexualities, And Classrooms: The Novels of Carole Maso" at the National Council of Teachers of English Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, 2001.
"Rupture, Verge, and Precipice:" presented as part of Panel entitled "Teaching Matters: Approaches to Teaching Carole Maso’s Novels," at the National Council of Teachers of English Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2000.
Campus & Community Involvement
Nonfiction Editor, Fifth Wednesday Journal. March 2011-present.
Director, The Space, writing studio and literary center, 306 E. Simmons, Galesburg, January 2011-present.
Faculty Personnel Committee, 2010-present.
Project Director, A Map of Voices: The Knox Writers' House. Digital archives of audio recordings from writers across the country, 2010-present.
Associate Director, The Program in Creative Writing.
Guest Poetry Editor, Fifth Wednesday Journal, spring 2010, issue 6.
Assistant Poetry Editor, Fifth Wednesday Journal, September 2007-August 2009.
Contributing Editor, Hunger Mountain, Journal of Arts & Letters, Fall 2002-present.
Galesburg Public Library, Board of Trustees, 2009-present.
What Students Say
"Monica Berlin is one of the most subtly incisive writing professors I have ever encountered. Her ability to feel the problematics in her students' work and then guide them into verbalizing and understanding them is uncanny. She teaches others to hear and understand the elusive mechanics of writing. Her guidance has greatly enriched the quality of my work, my ability to understand and speak of poetry, and my faith in this form."
-Maggie Queeney, Creative Writing and Classics Major
Britt Anderson encourages current Knox students to take classes in constitutional law, LSAT preparation, and to be ready to focus only on the study of law.
Scholar John Agnew aims to debunk myths and promote a better understanding of the dimensions of immigration in the United States and elsewhere.
A double-major in English literature and gender and women's studies, she walks in the footsteps of James Joyce and other writers, gaining a better understanding of them and their work.