Early Collected Poems: 1965-1992

Overview

“Stern’s unadorned craftsmanship has few rivals in American letters.”—Philadelphia InquirerEarly 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 ...

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Overview

“Stern’s unadorned craftsmanship has few rivals in American letters.”—Philadelphia InquirerEarly 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393076660
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/12/2010
  • Pages: 558
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Gerald Stern is the author of the National Book Award-winning This Time, the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize-winning Early Selected Poems, and other books. He has also been awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the National Jewish Book Award, and the Wallace Stevens Award, among many other honors. He lives in Lambertville, New Jersey.

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