Page 37 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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ADLER/ JEWISH POETRY’S QUANTUM LEAP
29
timate portrayal o f he r relationship with her father. It con­
cludes: “ . . . I though t/ that pain meant/I was not loved./It
meant I loved.” Prophetic in its message o f awakening, the poem
transfers the responsibility for love from the deity without, to
the God-ness within; loving is, as loving does. But the belief
system does not perm it dissolution. Self-analysis leads Gluck
back to the roots o f her estrangement, the pain o f separation:
a broken heart, manifested by the conditioning o f her faith.
Because o f he r enormous talent, one hopes that
Ararat
is a final
statement that will perm it Gluck to move forward from arche­
typical stigma to a ripen ing o f deepe r cosmic awareness.
STERN ’S OUTPUT
Leaving Another Kingdom
(1990), a selection o f Gerald S te rn ’s
poetry over the past twenty years, provides an excellent opp o r­
tunity for sampling the entire oeuvre o f one o f the coun try’s
most gifted poets. Stern is an en ter ta iner par excellence. Nu ­
ances are clever, language is original, and poems are both in­
telligent and fertile with the same brilliant repartee among God,
ego, and guilt, tha t colors the prose o f Bernard Malamud and
Saul Bellow. Dour hum o r yields to long sprawled-out narratives
that insinuate themselves into mind-blocked arteries where
once-removed tenem en t images chu rn in a limbo o f pain and
self-deprecation.
On Jewish terms, reincarnation is a myth, and Stern the Jew
is forced to bite the dust and flesh o f human limitation. But
Stern the poet and gnostic has already transcended his Jewish­
ness, and cannot allow himself to dismiss the possibility o f spir­
itual transformation.
In his collection,
Lovesick
(1990), the poem “G rape fru it” be­
gins:
I ’m eating breakfast even i f it means standing
in front of the sink and tearing at the
grapefruit,
even i f I ’m leaning over to keep the juices
away from my chest and stomach and even i f a
spider
is hanging from my ear and a wild flea
is crawling down my leg. My window is
wavy and dirty . . .