Academic journal article Field

The City of Gerald

Academic journal article Field

The City of Gerald

Article excerpt

"A man is indeed a city," William Carlos Williams wrote in an introduction to Paterson. I don't assume from this that Williams was the city of Paterson; he was larger than Paterson, even the Paterson of its heyday with its fabric mills & firearms & railroad engine factories, & of course its great falls where the milky waters of the Passaic plunge almost 100 feet only to wind up in New Jersey Of all our present day poets Gerald Stern is the one most certainly a city, The City of Gerald, which must have at least one cafeteria where you can get chilled borscht & lemon cream pie. It must have a tap room with a stained oaken bar & bottles of rye whisky lined up in front of the mirror. The bartender must know at least three languages one of which is Ukrainian & another French but keep his mouth shut. And of course it must have a kitchen where Gerald can get fish on Fridays, fish & mashed potatoes & tri-colored Neapolitan ice cream to top it off. On Gerald's favorite avenue there must be an ancient beech tree bronzing in afternoon light, one with a crotch large enough to shelter & comfort him so he can swap tales with the sparrows & the chickadees & sing along with the dark leaves. Gerald's city must have at least one huge, open field where the ruined horses go to nibble & where every day Gerald can see the whole golden spectacle of the sunrise & later see the florid sunset darken into night.

Gerald will not be the Poet Laureate of the City of Gerald because the city itself is a poem & like all true poems wears its laurels at all times. …

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