Monica Berlin, cherished professor and poet, died on Friday, November 4, 2022, at the age of 49.
Monica was the Richard & Sophie D. Henke Distinguished Professor of English at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. On faculty since 1998, she received the Philip Green Wright-Lombard College Prize for Distinguished Teaching and a Knox College Young Alumni Achievement Award. She was beloved by over two decades of students and colleagues to whom, in the words of her colleague Elizabeth Carlin Metz, “[s]he gave the absolute best and inspired the absolute best . . . asking only that we hold ourselves honestly to account.” She served her communities as Associate Director for The Program in Creative Writing at Knox, as the chair of the Knox English department, as an editor, and on the Galesburg Public Library Board of Trustees. She was the director of The Space, a writing studio and literary center she founded in the heart of Galesburg. She was the curator of the “Weekly Poem” sent to Knox College majors, alumni, and friends for more than 20 years.
Monica was the author of two chapbooks, Your Small Towns of Adult Sorrow & Melancholy (essays) and Maybe to Region (poems). She published three volumes of poetry: Elsewhere, That Small (2020); Nostalgia for a World Where We Can Live (2018), winner of the 2017 Crab Orchard Open Poetry Prize; and No Shape Bends the River So Long (2015), winner of the 2013 New Measure Poetry Prize and co-authored with her long-time collaborator and dearest friend, Beth Marzoni. At the time of her death, she had been writing a poem a day for nearly three years, and she was at work on a new manuscript.
“It is important to keep track,” Monica wrote in a recently published poem, “to not / lose what is real in what is impossible. Everything is impossible. Let each / of the lost once have been loved.” She was.
Monica was born on April 21, 1973 in Chicago, Illinois. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Knox College in 1995. She received a Master of Arts from Western Illinois University in 1998 and Master of Fine Arts from Vermont College in 2002. She was married for 14 years to Jeremy Karlin. They raised their daughter, Eliza, who attends Kalamazoo College. She is survived by her mother, Anne; her twin sister, Beth; and her much-loved partner, David Wright.
A public memorial service at Knox College is planned for the Spring of 2023. Donations in Monica’s memory can be sent to the Galesburg Public Library Foundation. Hinchliff-Pearson-West Funeral Directors and Cremation Services is honored to assist the family. Online condolences may be made on the funeral home’s website at www.h-p-w.com.