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About this poet

Gerald Stern was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on February 22, 1925. His recent books of poetry include Divine Nothingness: Poems (W. W. Norton, 2014); In Beauty Bright: Poems (W. W. Norton, 2012); Early Collected Poems: 1965-1992 (W. W. Norton, 2010), Save the Last Dance: Poems (2008); Everything Is Burning (2005); American Sonnets (2002); Last Blue: Poems (2000); This Time: New and Selected Poems (1998), which won the National Book Award; Odd Mercy (1995); and Bread Without Sugar (1992), winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize.

His other books include Stealing History (Trinity University Press, 2012); Leaving Another Kingdom: Selected Poems (1990); Two Long Poems (1990); Lovesick (1987); Paradise Poems (1984); The Red Coal (1981), which received the Melville Caine Award from the Poetry Society of America; Lucky Life, the 1977 Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets, which was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award; and Rejoicings (1973).

About his work, the poet Toi Derricotte has said, "Gerald Stern has made an immense contribution to American poetry. His poems are not only great poems, memorable ones, but ones that get into your heart and stay there. Their lyrical ecstasies take you up for that moment so that your vision is changed, you are changed. The voice is intimate, someone unafraid to be imperfect. Gerald Stern’s poems sing in praise of the natural world, and in outrage of whatever is antihuman."

His honors include the Paris Review's Bernard F. Conners Award, the Bess Hokin Award from Poetry, the Ruth Lilly Prize, four National Endowment for the Arts grants, the Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prize from American Poetry Review, and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. In 2005, Stern was selected to receive the Wallace Stevens Award for mastery in the art of poetry.

Stern was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2006. For many years a teacher at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, Stern now lives in Lambertville, New Jersey.

No One

No one there to remember with me
the election returns of 1931
Hoover losing state after state
Roosevelt getting his speech ready
the first time ever on radio
my father starting to sing in Russian
moving furniture to dance the kazatzka,
nor is there anyone to help me with the words
of a song I sang in Miss Steiner’s chorus
nor anyone standing there with me in the blue
rhododendrons or sitting under the blossoms
of my dying redbud, not even brewing
a Kroger tea bag and reading the leaves.

From Galaxy Love: Poems by Gerald Stern. Copyright © 2017 by Gerald Stern. Used with permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

From Galaxy Love: Poems by Gerald Stern. Copyright © 2017 by Gerald Stern. Used with permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Gerald Stern

Gerald Stern

Gerald Stern was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1925. His recent poetry collections include Divine Nothingness: Poems (W. W. Norton, 2014); In Beauty Bright: Poems (W. W. Norton, 2012); Early Collected Poems: 1965-1992 (W. W. Norton, 2010), and Save the Last Dance: Poems (2008).

by this poet

poem
As if the one tree you love so well and hardly
can embrace it is so huge so that with-
out it there might be a hole in the universe
explains how the killing of any one thing can 
likewise make a hole except that without
its existence there was neither a hole nor not a hole
I said to my friend Peter and after he
poem

I was betrayed by Bohemia early
in my life and left a run-down hotel
with my eye swollen shut by an insect bite
but got my revenge in France and Italy
and wasn’t bitten once in those two countries.

I swore off free meals and book-stealing
both there and elsewhere and
if I got

poem

 

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