Berkeley Today Stories
Dr. Stephen Wolf Shares ‘Central Park Love Song’ with Berkeley College Students
Students and faculty from three English classes at the Berkeley College School of Liberal Arts gathered with Dr. Stephen Wolf to discuss his recent book, “Central Park Love Song: Wandering, Beneath the Heaventrees.” The Reading and Talk session was held July 23 at the Berkeley College - NYC Midtown campus, where the author also explained his writing process.
“Central Park Love Song” was published by Griffith Moon, an art publishing house in Santa Monica, CA, in June 2018, and reviewed by Sam Roberts in the Bookshelf column of The New York Times on June 28, 2018. It took him six years to get published from the time he started writing until the book was accepted.
Griffith Moon describes “Central Park Love Song” as both an intimate portrait and meticulous research of America’s first great public park and the most-visited site in New York City. Beginning with the narrator and his dog wandering the battered, but still beautiful park in the late 1970s, readers learn why the park is so large on an island so small, why it grows in the center of Manhattan, and what has been lost to the needs of an ever-changing city.
“Reading Stephen Wolf’s combined guidebook and autobiography of his time spent in Manhattan’s largest green space is the next best thing to being there,” said Mr. Roberts.
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These and other stories weave through the narrative as the reader and narrator discover every cave and cranny of the park’s 843 acres and later see the park in new ways with his children, much as he did with his dog three decades before.
“I learned a lot about the park,” said Berkeley College student Erycah Kelley. “I’ve been to the park many times, but it was interesting to learn something new about it. I’m also an aspiring young writer so I learned a lot about the writing process.”
Chicago-born, Dr. Wolf was the editor of “I Speak of the City: Poems of New York,” published by Columbia University Press in 2007. He joined Berkeley College as a faculty member in the Department of English in 1993. His former occupations include truck driver, bike messenger, construction worker, and gymnastics coach. Dr. Wolf received a Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of Illinois.
He told the English class students that the most challenging part of writing the book was balancing the history with his personal stories.
“The best way to learn to write is to read. Get in there and do it,” Dr. Wolf advised. “As I discovered the park, so do my readers. Everything I learned about New York City, I learned on my own. Ever since I arrived in 1976, I kept reading, I kept listening, and I kept opening my eyes.”
In 1997, Dr. Wolf received the Outstanding Teacher Award and again in 2002, and the Faculty Excellence Award from the Berkeley College Honors Program in 2014. The award recognized Dr. Wolf’s contribution to the Honors Program by sharing his knowledge and expertise related to the 2013-2014 program theme, “Rediscovering New York City.” Dr. Wolf is a resident of Manhattan, NY.
“I’ve written things before but this was really a special project,” he explained. “I wanted to write something that would last – that would be part of New York’s history.”