Encounters with Gerald Stern

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I joined my father on an errand to Lambertville, New Jersey, yesterday—a very beautiful, very hip little place with just the right balance of old and new.  "You know," I said, as we drove down one narrow street, "I once interviewed Gerald Stern in a house right near here."  As I was saying the words, recalling that lovely afternoon with the National Book Award-winning poet whose fluid, smart, resonant work has actually been known to cure my migraines, I found myself looking at Gerald Stern himself—on his front porch, in a wide chair, deep in a happy conversation with what appeared to be neighborly kids. 

"Don't stop!" I told my father, but still I craned my head, and later I walked the canal path behind the garden of Stern's house, remembering the conversation we once had. Butterflies were out in force.  The spill of gardens toward rain-soaked gulleys. The white horizontals of brief bridges.

Do you know Gerald Stern's work?  For if you don't, you must.  The opening lines of "He Said," from This Time, here:

Thank God for summer, he said, and thank God the window
was to his right and there was a wavy motion
behind him and a moon in the upper right corner
only four days old and still not either blowsy
or soupy.....

(find the poem, read on)


Lilian Nattel said...

Thank you for the poetry excerpt. What a serendipitous sighting.

Priya said...

When we were in New Jersey last summer, we passed by all these signs pointing us to Lambertville, but never bothered to stop and check it out. It sounds lovely!

Maya Ganesan said...

I read on. How lovely.

I had heard of him, and knew who he was, but had never read any of his work. Thank you for exposing me to his poetry...I will certainly have to look into reading more of his work!

Beth F said...

Beautiful photograph and great story. I admit I don't know his poetry.

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