Neeli Cherkovski (born Nelson Cherry; July 1, 1945) is an American poet and memoirist, who has resided since 1975 in San Francisco.

Born in Santa Monica, California, Cherkovski grew up in San Bernardino, California. In the 1970s he was a political consultant in the Riverside area, who came to San Francisco to work on the staff of then-State Senator George Moscone. Cherkovski has written biographies of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Charles Bukowski, with whom he co-edited the Los Angeles zine Laugh Literary and Man the Humping Guns. Cherkovski produced the first San Francisco Poetry Festival, and in the early-1990s helped to found Café Arts Month, a yearly event celebrating San Francisco’s café culture.

Cherkovski is the author of Whitman’s Wild Children, a collection of essays about twelve poets he has known: Michael McClure, Charles Bukowski, John Wieners, James Broughton, Philip Lamantia, Bob Kaufman, Allen Ginsberg, William Everson, Gregory Corso, Harold Norse, Jack Micheline, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. This book combines biography, personal stories, and poetry analyses.

Cherkovski was a writer-in-residence at the New College of California in San Francisco. He taught literature and philosophy there until the school closed in 2008. His body of poetry includes AnimalElegy for Bob Kaufman and Leaning Against Time, for which he was awarded the 15th Annual PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award in 2005. In 2017 he was awarded the Jack Mueller Poetry Prize by Lithic Press. Cherkovski’s papers are housed at the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Cherkovski is the subject of the documentary film, It’s Nice To Be With You Always.


Poems for the Wailing Wall, (San Bernardino, CA: Black

Cat Press, 1968).

Pre-Rabbinic Poems, (San Bernardino, CA: Tecumseh Press, 1969).

Don’t Make a Move, (Big Bear Lake, CA: Tecumseh Press, 1973).

The Waters Reborn, (Los Angeles, CA: Red Hill Press, 1975).

Public Notice, (San Francisco: Beatitude Press, 1975).

The Be Attitude, (San Francisco: Beatitude Press, 1976).

The Summer Palace, (San Francisco: Twenty-Two Press, 1976).

Notes from Syropa, (San Francisco: Klean Karma Press, 1976).

Ferlinghetti: A biography. Garden City, (NY: Doubleday, 1979).

Love Proof: Book of poems and drawings, (North Beach, San Francisco:

Green Light Press, 1980).

Home American: Section 1, (Alexandria, VA: Deep Forest, 1983).

Juggler Within, (San Francisco: Harwood Alley Monographs, 1983).

Clear Wind, (San Diego, CA: Avant Books, 1984).

Animal, (Berkeley, CA: Pantograph Press, 1996).

Elegy for Bob Kaufman, (Northville, MI: Sun Dog Press, 1996).

Hank: The Life of Charles Bukowski, (New York: Random House, 1991

and also published as Bukowski: A life. South Royalton, VT:

Steerforth Press, 1997).

Whitman’s Wild Children: Portraits of twelve poets, (Venice, CA:

     Lapis Press, 1988;

      South Royalton, VT: Steerforth Press, 1999).

Leaning Against Time: Poems, (Penn Valley, CA: R.L. Crow, 2004).

Naming the Nameless: Poem, (San Francisco: Sore Dove Press, 2004).

Einstein Alive, (San Francisco: Solo Zone, 2005).

A Packet of Love Poems, (Santa Rosa, CA: Word Temple, 2008).

From the Canyon Outward: Poems, (Penn Valley, CA: R.L. Crow, 2009).

Grotesque Empire, (Dover, DE: Bottle of Smoke Press, 2010).

From the Middle Woods, (Cullowhee, NC: New Native Press, 2011).

Manila Poems, (Dover, DE: Bottle of Smoke Press, 2013).

The Crow and I, (Penn Valley, CA: R.L. Crow Publications, 2015).

Elegy for My Beat Generation, (Fruita, CO: Lithic Press, 2018).

In The Odes, (Los Angeles, CA / Bagnone, ITL: Magra Books, 2018).

Coolidge & Cherkovski: In Conversation, (Fruita, CO: Lithic Press, 2020).

Bukowski, A Life: The Centennial Edition, (Boston, MA: Black Sparrow Press, 2020).


Anthology of LA Poets, (Laugh Literary / Red Hill Press, 1972).

Off the Tongues of Sinners: A poetry anthology, (San Clemente, CA:

      12 Guage Press, 2002).

Cross Strokes: Poetry Between Los Angeles and San Francisco, (Otis Books, 2015).

Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman, (San Francisco, CA: City Lights, 2019).