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.

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