Gerald Stern, one of the most beloved and respected poets in the United States, has passed away. He was known for his passionate sadness and earthy humor and his poems about his boyhood, Judaism, mortality, and the wonders of the contemplative life. He was 97.
According to his lifelong partner Anne Marie Macari, Stern, who served as the first poet laureate of New Jersey, passed away on Thursday at the Calvary Hospice in New York City. The reason of death was not disclosed in a statement from Macari that publisher WW Norton released on Saturday.
History and Education of Gerald Stern:
Gerald Stern earned a master’s degree in comparative literature from Columbia University after studying political science at the University of Pittsburgh. Among the poets he read carefully for the first time were Ezra Pound and W.B. Yeats.
During the 1950s, Gerald Stern lived in New York and Europe before relocating to Lambertville, near the Delaware River, to live out the remainder of his days. His capacity for creativity grew gradually. He didn’t come up with the “sweet concept” of writing for a living until he was in the Army, where he briefly served after World War II. He worked on “The Pineys,” a poem on the American president, for the most of his 30s but was discouraged by how “indulgent” and “tedious” it was. He feared that as he got closer to 40, he had turned into “an endlessly elderly student” and “an eternally young educator.”He ultimately found his voice as a poet via his midlife crisis, realizing that he had been “taking the easier road” than he should have.
Gerald Stern stated in the essay “Some Secrets,” which was released in 1983, “It also had to do with a knowledge that my delayed youth was finished, that I wouldn’t live forever, and that death was not simply a literary event but very real and very personal.” I was able to let go, finally find myself, and let go of my pride and humiliation.
Gerald Stern union with Patricia Miller was annulled. David Stern and Rachael Stern Stern were their two children.
Stern was a longtime political activist whose causes included desegregating a swimming pool in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and planning an anti-apartheid reading at the University of Iowa. Stern tended to steer clear of topical poems, though. He was a teacher at several different institutions, but he was very pessimistic about academic life and writing programs. He made a point of scaling the wall on his route to class at Temple University because he was furious at the institution’s choice to build a 6-foot brick wall dividing the university from the surrounding Black neighborhoods of Philadelphia in the 1950s.
Gerald Stern said to the online magazine The Rumpus in 2010 that “the institution quietly and insidiously works on you in such a way that though you seem to have freedom you become a servant.” “Getting promoted to the next position is your main concern. or accept a picnic invitation. gain tenure, or. or find love.”
Stern is survived by his grandchildren Dylan and Alana Stern, Rebecca and Julia Martin, in addition to Macari and his children.
Trauma of Gerald Stern’s Life:
Gerald Stern, a 1925-born author, spoke of the trauma of losing his older sister, Sylvia, when he was eight years old, while not recalling any significant literary influences as a child. “A thug who hung around in pool halls and got into fights,” is how he would describe himself. But he claimed to be a well-read gangster who did well in college in a 1999 interview with The New York Times.
Achievements of Gerald stern:
National Book Award in 1998:
The balding, round-eyed Stern, who won the National Book Award in 1998 for the anthology “This Time,” was sometimes mistaken for Allen Ginsberg in person and frequently compared to Walt Whitman because of his lyrical and sensual writing style and his talent for uniting the material world with the larger cosmos.
Although Stern’s upbringing in Pittsburgh’s gritty urban environment had a significant influence on him, he also developed a strong affinity for nature and animals, marveling at the “power” of a maple tree, comparing himself to hummingbirds or squirrels, or discovering the “secret of life” in a dead animal on the side of the road.
The poet wrote more than a dozen novels and characterized himself as “part humorous, part idealistic, tinged in irony, smeared with mocking and sarcasm.” He was a lifelong atheist who also fervently believed in “the idea of the Jew.” He wrote with a particular fervor about the past in his poetry and essays, including his immigrant parents, long-lost acquaintances and loves, and the stark differences between Pittsburgh’s rich and poor, Jews and non-Jews. The poem he thought best captured who he was was “The One Thing in Life,” from the book “Lucky Life,” published in 1977.
There is a sweetness buried in my mind
there is water with a small cave behind it
there’s a mouth speaking Greek
It is what I keep to myself; what I return to;
the one thing that no one else wanted
Received Lifetime Achievement Distinctions in 1991:
He wasn’t given any significant honors until he was beyond 50, although he received many citations in the latter half of his life. In addition to his National Book Award, he also received lifetime achievement distinctions like the Wallace Stevens Award and the Ruth Lilly Prize for “Leaving Another Kingdom,” which made him a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1991.
Chosen as New Jersey’s First Poet Laureate in 2000
Meanwhile, he unknowingly contributed to the position’s swift extinction after being chosen New Jersey’s first poet laureate in 2000. Amiri Baraka was suggested as his replacement after he completed his two-year term. With his poem “Somebody Blew Up America” from 2002, Baraka would ignite a ferocious uproar by asserting that Israel had knowledge of the September 11 attacks in advance. The state decided to do away with the laureate since Baraka would not resign.
Received “One of America’s Great Poet Award” in 2013:
The Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for “Early Collected Poems” was awarded to him by the Library of Congress in 2013. The award recognized him as “one of America’s great poet-proclaimers in the Whitmanic tradition: With moments of humor and whimsy, and an enduring generosity, his work celebrates the mythologizing power of the art.”
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