Divine Nothingness: Poems

Divine Nothingness: Poems

by Gerald Stern
     
 

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From the National Book Award–winning author of This Time, a new volume of poems that explore the very nature of existence.

Divine Nothingness is a meditative reflection on the poet’s past and an elegy to love and the experience of the senses in the face of mortality. From the Jersey side of the Delaware River in Lambertville,

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Overview

From the National Book Award–winning author of This Time, a new volume of poems that explore the very nature of existence.

Divine Nothingness is a meditative reflection on the poet’s past and an elegy to love and the experience of the senses in the face of mortality. From the Jersey side of the Delaware River in Lambertville, Gerald Stern explores questions about who and why we are, locating nothingness in the divine and the divine in nothingness.

From “What Brings Me Here?”

Here I am again and what brings me here
to the same wooden bench
preaching to the city of Lambertville
surrounded by mayapples?

For who in the hell is going to lie down with whom in the hell,
either inside or outside?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/20/2014
“I was/ born at the end of an era, I hung on with/ my fingers then with my nails,” writes Stern (In Beauty Bright), who on the cusp of turning 90 may now be doing the best work of his career. Admired for decades for his gritty, demotic, heartfelt verse, he won the National Book Award for This Time (1998). The informal advice and blue-collar detail are still present, but his late-life poems are far weirder and less linear. “Mouse Trap,” a success in Stern’s familiar voice, remembers “the name of/ the ball of fur my former wife and I/ delivered to the animal rescue... outside of Easton,” whereas “Limping” begins with, “Space again for a predatory wasp/ to sing you to sleep.” More surprises await, as do many memories of the 1930s and 1940s. Stern’s free verse—derived from William Carlos Williams—repudiates old rules while not quite creating its own: his incidents take on their own life, chaotic yet restrained, broken but passionate. Stern’s poems have the vigor and the pathos of “a meadowlark you held in the cup of your hands/ and how you reached down to kiss her wet feathers/ and she bit you twice, on the lip and the left cheek.” (Nov.)
Donna Seaman - Booklist
“Stern, at 89, is as robust and forthright as ever, occupying the page with insouciant skill, wry humor, and flashing passion. His long-lined, long poems move with a jazzy tension, pushing the limits and keeping time, rippling and sliding like piano riffs, while his sonnets quake.”
Toi Derricote
“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.”
Library Journal
10/15/2014
Soon to turn 90, Stern (In Beauty Bright) continues to rummage through his storehouse of memories, revisiting old haunts ("the meadow/ where the sidewalk suddenly became a river/ as one street rounded a bend and then another") and reliving small yet vivid experiences with a lyrical, improvisational verve that subverts suggestions of simple nostalgia. Notational and sinuous, the poems seem to be attempts to weave the random threads of life into a pattern that the writing process itself will reveal. Imagistic clarity alternates with emotional ambiguity as the poet records not just his memories but his quest to understand the forces behind their persistence ("it's all about the things/ I'm trying to find the word for"). VERDICT Stern knows that, energetic as they are, these poems are especially cryptic and personal ("There is only one other person who understands this,/ the rest will have to go by language alone"), and perhaps only his most dedicated fans and friends will absorb them fully. But they are well wrought, sharply edged, and proof that the desire to comprehend one's way in the world never diminishes.—Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393243512
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
10/13/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
112
File size:
0 MB

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