Bert Stern
  • Review
By – September 16, 2011
Like chil­dren of the Holo­caust, those whose par­ents suf­fered from pogroms or who were forced from their home­land because of reli­gious per­se­cu­tion car­ry the scars for­ev­er. The cost of such escape nev­er seems to leave Bert Stern, one exam­ple of an adult son who knows, as he states so direct­ly in Lot­ty is Born,” “…let them tell me if they can/​if I am rec­om­pense for what they endured.” The remain­ing five parts of this notable col­lec­tion might be described as an appre­ci­a­tion for the beau­ty and fragili­ty of life there­after. In the title poem, Stern notes the full effect of such sur­vival, “…he said what he hoped,/as if God gave us life/​as we want it. But order is like hous­es chil­dren weave from grass­es, twigs/​and leaves.” Nature as it appears in upstate Buf­fa­lo, New York is a repeat­ed mir­ror image of deep beau­ty and death, with the lat­ter being exis­ten­tial­ly, not mor­bid­ly, depict­ed. One oth­er out­stand­ing poem is Midrash: Abra­ham” in which after his son remains after the great sac­ri­fice “…bro­ken there, com­plete and alone,/bent by per­fec­tion.” Steer­age is a cel­e­bra­tion of new life for­ev­er renewed by the past.
Deb­o­rah Schoen­e­man, is a for­mer Eng­lish teacher/​Writing Across the Cur­ricu­lum Cen­ter Coor­di­na­tor at North Shore Hebrew Acad­e­my High School and coed­i­tor of Mod­ern Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture: A Library of Lit­er­ary Crit­i­cism, Vol. VI, pub­lished in 1997.

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