Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Mark Perlberg  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Poetry

Born: 1929

Died: 2008

-- Website --
-- Mark Perlberg on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Perlberg was a long time resident of Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Perlberg is a poet and author. He is a founding member of the Poetry Center of Chicago.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

The Feel of the Sun: Poems
ISBN: 0804004226

Swallow Pr. 1981

The Impossible Toystore: Poems
ISBN: 0807126144

Louisiana State Univ Pr. 2000

Mark Perlberg's poems are deeply felt, their language concrete, alive, moving. Whether his verses are about his family, meditations on time and memory, love poems, or even ghost narratives, his concerns are broadly humane. His voice is sometimes lyric, sometimes narrative -- often in the same poem -- but always unmistakably his own.
The largely autobiographical Part I opens the collection with moving poems about the poet's family -- his overeducated maternal grandfather, his mother, the dead father the boy never really knew. The tone darkens in Part II includes a powerful recollection of Perlberg's own heart surgery and brief but wrenching Holocaust poems based on a trip to Prague: "An old Jew dreams...the Grand Rabbi/ has forgotten all the secret names of God" ("Kabbala").
In Part III Perlberg offers love poems and continues his lifelong preoccupation with East Asia. Verses about childhood fill Part IV, with a memory of the spicy smell of burning, discarded Christmas trees

a touching tribute to the enduring influence of the poet's first grade teacher

and recollections of carefree summer days.

The Burning Field
ISBN: B003Y80MT4

Morrow. 1970

Waiting for the Alchemist: Poems
ISBN: 080713399X

LSU Press. 2009

Direct and compassionate, the poems in Mark Perlberg's collection tell us things we need to know -- about art, history, nature, love, and life. Wholly without pretension, these poems make us feel that we have discovered the truth. The poet accomplishes this partly by his delicate touch with rhyme and assonance, partly by making himself seem almost an accidental instrument of the poem, someone who just happens to be conveying it. A reader cannot help but respond with affection and gratitude.
The title poem reminds us that the philosopher's stone is more likely to turn up in our backyard -- or in our imagination -- than in a laboratory. The poems of the second section address history with restraint and tenderness, while those in section three explore contemporary lives. In the final section, Perlberg writes about his family, his friends, and himself. In a poem titled "In My Next Life," the poet says -- perhaps smiling inwardly -- he will then be "amiable, mostly, but large / and formidable," and adds, with a wink, "I'll insist you be present / in my next life -- and the one after that." Warm and inclusive, Waiting for the Alchemist is a beautiful collection.