Dancing with Tears in My Eyes
"Our romance with children begins with their idealism, their playfulness, their unfiltered imaginations and infinite capacity for wonder. We bear witness to their raucous, devilish clowning with the taboo and their instantaneous mood changes: one moment infantile, the next wise beyond their years. But the boyish wonder who—with surprising facility—sketched these cartoons, doodles, marginalia, visual and verbal puns, is in his eighties, one of our greatest and most prolific poets. Now we don't have to imagine what our favorite satyr does while he eats dinner, listens to you read, or waits for the bus. You can't take a pen out of this poet's hands and we're glad."—Ira Sadoff
For decades one of our most honored and beloved poets, Gerald Stern is also, it turns out, a prolific doodler. Sometimes charming, sometimes scathing, sometimes both, the odd little figures and scenes here are reproduced from drawings on napkins, hotel stationary, and the margins of what seem to be lecture handouts. These are remarkable expressions of a quirky world and a clear vision.
Long recognized as one of the most original poets in America, Stern is known for his tragi-comic, irascible vision that has been vividly rendered in hundreds of poems. All along, he has also been drafting these whimsical sketches. The Thurber-esque drawings represented here are daft, graphic expressions of Stern’s fearless and shameless sense of self.
In addition to expressing a forgiving and cavalier attitude toward aging, these saucy drawings, until now a well-kept secret of Stern’s creative life, capture something essential about his character. By turns profane and playfully romantic, they are another expression of the cutting wit and inimitable charm of Gerald Stern.