An illuminating and irascible compilation of selected and new poems from National Book Award winner Gerald Stern.
For five decades, Gerald Stern has been writing his own brand of expansive, deep-down American poetry. Now in his nineties, this “sometimes comic, sometimes tragic visionary” (Edward Hirsch) engages a lifetime of memories in his poems, blending philosophical, wide-ranging intellect with boisterous wit.
Memory unites the poems in Blessed as We Were, which reach back through seven collections written over almost two decades. Stern explores casual miracles, relationships, and the natural world in Last Blue (2000); offers a satirical and redemptive vision in Everything Is Burning (2005) and Save the Last Dance (2008); meditates on the metamorphosis of aging in In Beauty Bright (2012); and captures the sensual joys of life—even when they are far in the past—in the wistful love poems and elegies of Galaxy Love (2017). The volume concludes with over two dozen new poems that combine the metaphysical with the domestic, from the passage of time and the cost of love to the profound banality of cardboard and its uses.
With his characteristic exuberant, oracular voice animating every line, Stern reminds us why he is one of the great American poets, one who has long “been telling us that the best way to live is not so much for poetry, but through poetry” (New York Times Book Review).