Gertrude Stein – A Bold Experimenter

“Writing and reading is to me synonymous with existing.”

Gertrude Stein


If I was ever asked who I would like to spend an afternoon with, I would choose Gertrude Stein.   After all, she lived in Paris surrounded by all that she loved best – art, music, poetry, food and wine.   Her residence at the salon, 27 rue de Fleurus on the Left Bank, was a gathering place for the “new moderns,” the talented young artists who would help define the idea of modernism in literature and art.  Imagine what it would be like to experience the conversations of Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Claribel & Etta Cone,  James Joyce, Thornton Wilder, in the formative stages of the modernist movement.   Her salon was indeed “A Moveable Feast” just as Ernest Hemingway described.

Gertrude Stein had very little use for the narrative, linear and time-orientated conventions of 19th century literature.   A self-proclaimed genius, she preferred to experiment in her writing.   Her poetry is not easy to read or understand, but there is drama, wit and boldness in her choice of words.  Many believe that she was creating portraits with words, much like Picasso was with paints.

To celebrate National Poetry Month, I chose Christian Bérard which is focused on food and eating.  I confess, it is easy to stumble over the words, but I found the more I read this poem aloud, the more I appreciated the nuances.  Since I have not included the full poem, I would encourage you to explore it at Poetry Foundation, an excellent resource for poetry.

Christian Bérard

By Gertrude Stein

Eating is her subject.

       While eating is her subject.

       Where eating is her subject. Continue reading

A Day for Shakespeare – April 23, 2014


“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” 
William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night


Today is National Shakespeare Day.  There is a great deal being said about his brilliance, his writing style and theatrical beginnings.  Some include a timeline from birth to his death, which incidentally occurred on the same day –  April 23rd – fifty-two years apart.    It has been 450 years since his birth and still we talk about him.  Why?

Because he was a storyteller!

Shakespeare gave us stories that resonate within the human heart, advising that “We are such stuff as dreams are made on.”   His words bridge the centuries with verse that draws on a range of human emotions, reminding us that each of us has a part to play.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.

William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Shakespeare may be a household word, but most of us remember him from school days, when we were required to read one of his plays, knowing that we would be asked to regurgitate someone’s idea of what the play was all about.  For many, this was a painful process, especially since a grade was attached to these assignments.   I wonder what Shakespeare would think of this practice?

Several years ago, I went back to Shakespeare when I read Peter Ackroyd’s “Shakespeare: The Biography” which was published in 2006.   I chose this book specifically because Peter Ackroyd is a self-proclaimed enthusiast instead of an expert on Shakespeare.  I was more interested in William Shakespeare as a flesh and blood person, rather than a distant, inaccessible genius.  I was not disappointed.   Peter Ackroyd transported me to the time of Elizabeth I, where drama, intrigue and schemes flourished.  William Shakespeare’s years were filled with humour, joy, tragedy and love.  A life well lived.

“All’s well if all ends well.” 

 William Shakespeare



“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.” 
 Ruth Reichl

They call it social media, but I rather think of blogging as a conversation, an exchange of ideas that draws on the varied experiences and talents of a wider, global community.  A few weeks ago, Letizia from Reading Interrupted invited me to write a guest blog on George Washington which was in response to Letizia’s excellent post on Revisiting the Jefferson Bible. I encourage you to visit Letizia’s blog and enjoy reading (and participating in)  the animated discussion.

Thank you, Letizia, for introducing me to your dynamic and vibrant community. I look forward to every one of your posts. With a book in our hands, we are always on an adventure.

Thank you, Letizia!