Biography of Gerald Stern
Gerald Stern (born February 22, 1925) is an American poet.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. to Harry and Ida Barach Stern (Polish and Ukrainian immigrants), he was educated in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. Stern studied at the University of Pittsburgh (B.A., 1947) and Columbia University (M.A., in 1949). After receiving his undergraduate degree in English, Stern also served the United States Army Air Corps.
He did post-graduate study at the University of Paris in 1949-50 and spent his twenties living in and traveling between New York City and Europe. At that time he starts to write and publish poetry.
His work became widely recognized after the 1977 publication of "Lucky Life," which was that year's Lamont Poetry Selection, and of a series of essays on writing poetry in American Poetry Review. He has subsequently been given many prestigious awards for his writing, including the 1996 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the 1998 National Book Award for This Time: New and Selected Poems, and the 2012 Library of Congress Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Award for Early Collected Poems: 1965-1992. He was Poet Laureate of New Jersey from 2000 to 2002, and received the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2005. Since 2006, Stern has been a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
Stern has taught at Temple University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Raritan Valley Community College, and Iowa Writers' Workshop.During the mid-1970s, Stern was a literature consultant for both New Jersey and Pennsylvania Council of the Arts as well as a coordinator for Pennsylvania Poetry in schools. Stern is former faculty member and co-founder of New England College's Master of Fine Arts Program in Poetry. Stern is currently serving as distinguished poet-in-residence at Drew University's low-residency MFA Program in Poetry beginning January 2009, with Jean Valentine, the other distinguished poet-in-residence for the program.
He married Patricia Miller in 1952 (divorced); they have two children: Rachael, a nutrition therapist living in Alabama; and David, an architect living in Massachusetts. He also has 4 grandchildren, Rebecca, Dylan, Julia, and Alana. His companion is poet Anne Marie Macari, and he lives in Lambertville, New Jersey.
Gerald Stern Poems
A bunch of old snakeheads down by the pond carrying on the swan tradition -- hissing inside their white bodies, raising and lowering their heads like ostriches, regretting only the sad ritual
In all these rotten shops, in all this broken furniture and wrinkled ties and baseball trophies and coffee pots I have never seen a post-war Philco with the automatic eye
Of all sixty of us I am the only one who went to the four corners though I don't say it out of pride but more like a type of regret, and I did it because there was no one I truly believed
I wanted to know what it was like before we had voices and before we had bare fingers and before we had minds to move us through our actions and tears to help us over our feelings,
What I was doing with my white teeth exposed like that on the side of the road I don't know, and I don't know why I lay beside the sewer
Another Insane Devotion
This was gruesome—fighting over a ham sandwich with one of the tiny cats of Rome, he leaped on my arm and half hung on to the food and half hung on to my shirt and coat. I tore it apart
What I was doing with my white teeth exposed
like that on the side of the road I don't know,
and I don't know why I lay beside the sewer
so that the lover of dead things could come back
with is pencil sharpened and his piece of white paper.
I was there for a good two hours whistling
dirges, shrieking a little, terrifying
hearts with my whimpering cries before I died
by pulling the one leg up and stiffening.