David Chapman Berry, Jr., was born on July 23, 1942, in Vicksburg, Mississippi (Bellande 2) to David and Annette Berry (Berry 1). Berry has a younger sister, Betty Berry, who was born in 1946. David Berry's family moved to Greenville, Mississippi, in the late forties or early fifties, where Berry attended high school and lived at 1443 Highway One South. David's father managed several gas stations and was a very humorous man. David's mother, Annette, was pensive and thoughtful. David's father died around 1984, and his mother around 1991 (Drew 1).
Berry says that he began writing poetry in ninth grade due to boredom in church (Berry 1). In high school, Berry was an excellent student, who was active in the school chorus and school plays during his senior year. He graduated from Greenville High School in June of 1960 and attended Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, in the fall of 1960. While in college, Berry joined the literary fraternity Chi Delta Theta and played intramural soccer and basketball.
During the summer vacation, David Berry enjoyed reading, writing, and playing tenor guitar. He worked at many jobs during college, including service station manager, survey party rodman, construction inspector, and towboat deck hand. Berry graduated from Jones in June of 1964 with a double major in mathematics and biology (Drew 3). He had also met by this time and planned to marry Terri Stoutenborough, of Decatur, Illinois, in the summer of 1965.
After graduating from Jones, David Berry remained in Greenville, Mississippi, during the school year of 1964-1965, commuting to and from Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, studying pre-med courses and English and creative writing. He also took a job in the emergency room of Greenville's General Hospital, sparking an interest in a career in medicine and causing him to apply to Ole Miss's medical school. However, he decided to work for General Motors. In the summer of 1965, Berry married Terri Stoutenborough and moved to Flint, Michigan. During this time, Berry worked in the General Motors management trainee program.
In the Summer of 1966, David Berry was drafted into the United States Army. During Berry's time in Vietnam, he worked as a medic, played volleyball, and wrote poetry. Although his first major work,is called Saigon Cemetery, Berry says that his experiences in Vietnam were not the inspiration for the book of poems. In fact, he says, " I made all that up during lunch breaks before taking a nap. I was in a safe place." The book was published in 1972 (Bellande 3). He says that he wrote for two reason: boredom and emotional conflicts in Vietnam (Berry 1).
David Berry studied at the University of Tennessee after his return from Vietnam in 1973 (Bellande 3). While there, he earned a Ph. D. in English. However, he ended up divorcing Terri. Later he married and then divorced a woman named Anne as well. Anne and he had a son, David C. Berry III. In 1985, Berry married Sarah Adele Rawls, from Columbia, Mississippi, whom he had met at Southern. They later had a son named Hays, who was born in September of 1986 (Drew 7).
David Berry wrote the book Jawbone, which was published in 1978 (Bellande 3). His latest literary work is the collection of poetry entitled Divorce Boxing. Berry has released two editions of this book since 1998 (Bellande 3). He says his inspiration for this book came from his own personal experience with two divorces (Berry 1).
David Berry has received many distinguished awards in his career. These include three excellence-in-teaching awards at USM, the Charles Moorman Distinguished Professor in Humanities award at University of Southern Mississippi (Bellande 3), the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Award in May, 2000, the Florida Review Editor's Prize, and the Southern Federation of State Arts Agencies Poetry Award (Berry 1). David Berry is currently working as an English professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where he is also the poetry editor of the journal Mississippi Review (Abbott 383). In his spare time, Berry enjoys sculpting, playing basketball, (Berry 1) and being a multimedia artist (Bellande 3). When asked if he plans on writing any more books, Berry's reply is simply, "Yes." David Berry has one piece of advice for future writers, "Read, write, and erase" (Berry 1).