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About this poet

Gerald Stern was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on February 22, 1925. His recent books of poetry include Galaxy Love (W. W. Norton, 2017); Divine Nothingness (W. W. Norton, 2014); In Beauty Bright (W. W. Norton, 2012); Early Collected Poems: 1965-1992 (W. W. Norton, 2010), Save the Last Dance (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, 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.

Visit from Mars

Nostradamus generally predicted the
future but he also shined a clear
light into the past and lived to
regret some of the visions he had
because they weren’t precise enough
and could have been used for nefarious
thoughts or perilous judgments since,
after all, he was a prophet though
he could have been called a false
prophet in the sense that both
Ezekiel and Isaiah speak of them
though I have to say that
he predicted the visit from Mars, orchestrated
by Orson Welles in 1938
in the town of Grover’s Mill, near Princeton
where everyone seemed to turn on
the radio five, ten, minutes after the
show started including my father and
mother who were packing suitcases
for a quick ride to the bluff
and a cave my father knew from
his early years nor did he ever
forgive Orson Welles for the broadcast
and wouldn’t talk to me about Touch of
Evil—the greatest—nor Citizen Kane,
mostly a little boring though
if you were a film buff you could
study it forever especially if
you hated Hearst for all the good reasons.
Einstein himself was interviewed
while walking the mulberry streets, especially
the right-hand side of Great Road, going south,
where the houses are windy and overpriced,
and he was so full of denial that anyone
with a radio antenna sticking out of his head
had been seen in any diner or hardware store,
Einstein whose bushy face had rubbed
many a pair of reddened lips,
Einstein whose famous name they stole for bagels.

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 Galaxy Love (W. W. Norton, 2017); Divine Nothingness (W. W. Norton, 2014); In Beauty Bright (W. W. Norton, 2012); Early Collected Poems: 1965-1992 (W. W. Norton, 2010), and Save the Last Dance (2008).

by this poet

poem
The mayor, in order to marry us, borrowed
a necktie from a lawyer which, on him,
looked stupid and kept his eye on a red pigeon
which somehow got in to coo her disappointment,
if only for the record, though one of the two 
witnesses who kicked the red got only what
she deserved and that was that, except that the
poem

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2
poem

Don’t ever think of Coney Island
where the rabbits once ran wild
or the afternoon we went swimming
though it was only May for we had graduated
and we spent the night eating hot dogs at Nathan’s
and took the Screamer back to 96th Street.

Nor should you love too much the white pole