Gerald Stern is an American poet, essayist and educator. The author of twenty collections of poetry and four books of essays, Stern has taught literature and creative writing at Temple University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Raritan Valley Community College, and Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Since 2009, Stern has been distinguished poet-in-residence and a member of the faculty of Drew University’s graduate programme for a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in poetry.
Stern is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia University and has attended the University of Paris for post-graduate study. He received the National Book Award for Poetry in 1998 for This Time: New and Selected Poems, and was named as a finalist in 1991 for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Leaving Another Kingdom: Selected Poems. In 2000, New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman appointed Stern as the state’s first poet laureate.
The Name by Gerald Stern
Having outlived Allen I am the one who
has to suffer New York all by myself and
eat my soup alone in Poland although
sometimes I sit with Linda he met in Berkeley
or San Francisco when he met Jack, the bread
thin and wasted, and not too salty the way the
Chinese further down sometimes make them, the
name still on my mind whatever the reason for
mystery, or avoidance, though rat Netanyahu
and pig that swings from a needle or lives in some
huge incubator, they do darkness where there
was light, the name hates them, the name
in hiding, the name with a beard, and Linda she
loves the name though she invokes her Christ
as Jack her lover and tormentor did and
taught her to do though it is too easy, that,
it troubles me but what can I say, what should I
say while we walk north on the right hand side,
past the pork store and the hardware store, me lecturing
on Logos (my God) and what not Hebrews and Greeks
where Allen and I once kissed, Jack in the sun now.
Originally published in Poetry (October 2011), reprinted with permission from Gerald Stern.
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Gerald Stern was the author of more than twenty collections of poetry and essays. His most recent book of poems were Blessed as We Were: Late Selected and New Poems, 2000 – 2018 (W.W. Norton, 2020). He received numerous awards, including the National Book Award for This Time: New and Selected Poems (W.W. Norton, 1998). He lived in New York City.