Sunday, February 19, 2006

Happy Birthday, Gertrude

February 3 was Gertrude Stein's birthday, and my Poem-A-Day calendar marked it with this quote from contemporary poet C.D. Wright. Chime at all with your own reading?

"Gertrude Stein was a merrily errant writer. Her unfailing ear, radical syntax, and, perhaps more than any other quality, her comfort with her own procedures, set her texts securely in the foreground of American experimentalists. If her aims can be said to begin the language all over again, she made a grand beginning.

Stein's signature is a vigorous application of repetition. Beginning, middle, and ending are foresworn for the loop, the continuous present, a technique she considered cinematic....Stein's vocabulary is childishly simple and literal. Her tone is naive. She merely verbalizes what she sees. But behind the simple facade is a lion that never sleeps....There is a boggling level of inclusiveness in Stein, made all the more so given her method of composition. Out of reiteration comes an intensity, and from this inclusiveness, a democracy in word, phrase and sentence structure which combined to vitalize poetry in a late age. No one has equaled her exaggerated melodies."

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