Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)
A few days ago, while organizing paperwork and whatnot, I came across my writing journals from college. It’s interesting to revisit oneself after 20 years. It felt familiar, but not so much that I recognized the author. I could remember writing the words, but the fact that I had done so struck me as bizarre. For the most part, I didn’t like the person who had written those poems and fragments and notes. He seemed silly, immature, and at times overly serious. I wish I could go back and tell him the things I have learned on my journey.
That said, I haven’t been writing much lately. I haven’t even journaled this summer for obvious reasons. But I’m very much feeling the words gathering into lines in my head, and I am eager to write more poetry. I’d been in a dry spell on poetry, but mostly that was due to the lack of quiet I had been dealing with. Quiet seems easier to achieve recently. That should help.
When I was studying literature, it was easy to fall for specific authors who I just connected with. It wasn’t always clear why those connections happened, but it was this that introduced me to Galway Kinnell, Sylvia Plath, Frank O’Hara, Geoffrey Chaucer, & Tim O’Brien. I latched on to these, and to others, quickly and they helped guide the type of writer I would be. I was also discovering contemporary authors at that time in my life and their words would guide me as well — Jim Grimsley, Bob Smith, Gary Reed. Gertrude Stein was one of the authors I discovered in class, having been aware of her for most of my life. It’s odd how little one can know about someone who has such a well-known name.
Gertrude Stein wrote in several different styles, but all of it was filled with her characteristic repetition and rhythm. I was especially interested in added that to my own work, and I gave it a try many times. It’s something that still comes up. A nod to Stein is a very common practice for me, and I thank her for being one of my muses.