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Gerald Stern: Early Collected Poems: 1965-1992by Gerald Stern
Synopses & Reviews
Early Collected Poems gathers the poems from the first six books of Gerald Stern's body of work. A master poet, Stern has sought new language for the overlooked, neglected, and unseen facets of human experience. Whether writing about modern poets, Hebrew prophets, death, war, or love, "Stern's literary songs are sharp, surprising, and unerring in their delivery" (Ploughshares, Editor's Choice).
from "The Red Coal"
The coal has taken over, the red coal
is burning between us and we are at its mercy--
as if a power is finally dominating
the two of us; as if we're huddled up
watching the black smoke and the ashes;
as if knowledge is what we needed and now
we have that knowledge. Now we have that knowledge.
"Stern's early volumes had consistent strengths, combining the gritty epiphanies of the Deep Image school (think of Galway Kinnell) with attention to working-class Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, to American immigration, and to Jewish tradition (think of Philip Levine). 'Come with me to Stanley's and spend your life/ weeping in the small park on 106th St.' one poem invites. The prolific Stern, whose many honors include a National Book Award, moved in the course of three decades from Philly and New York City to New Jersey to the University of Iowa; these poems shift, too, from one locale to the next (with stopovers in Italy and Crete: 'Crete is a kind/ of moon to me, a kind of tiny planet'). But the sensibility, and the music of speech, do not much change: an almost loquaciously informal free verse, a commitment to plain-man American diction, and a quest after the deepest truths of the unadorned spirit show up in almost all his work, up through (and including) the long elegy for Stern's father with which this big collection ends. Admirers will be happy to have so much in one place, but Stern does repeat himself, so new readers may not find this the best place to start. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Stern's unadorned craftsmanship has few rivals in American letters."--Philadelphia Inquirer
About the Author
Gerald Stern, the author of seventeen poetry collections, has won the National Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, the Ruth Lilly Prize, and the Wallace Stevens Award, among others. He lives in Lambertville, New Jersey.
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