Celebrations, Gertrude Stein, National Poetry Month, Poetry

Gertrude Stein – A Bold Experimenter

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

Gertrude Stein

Paris

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

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Gertrude Stein, Poetry

Gertrude Stein

“I think the reason I am important is that I know everything.”

Gertrude Stein 

Flower Shop

On The Road Poetry Program 2013 has chosen the book “The Voice of the Poet – Five American Women” as a poetry guide for the first quarter of the year.  Reading poetry speaks to the heart.  Listening to poetry sings to the soul.  “Five American Women” is an extraordinary audio book that highlights the poetry of Gertrude Stein, HD, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Louise Bogan and Muriel Rukeyser.

Tender Buttons [Milk]
by Gertrude Stein

A white egg and a colored pan and a cabbage

   showing settlement, a constant increase.

A cold in a nose, a single cold nose makes an excuse.

   Two are more necessary.

All the goods are stolen, all the blisters are in the cup.

Cooking, cooking is the recognition between sudden

   and nearly sudden very little and all large holes.

A real pint, one that is open and closed and in the

   middle is so bad.

Tender colds, seen eye holders, all work, the best of

   change, the meaning, the dark red, all this and

   bitten, really bitten.

Guessing again and golfing again and the best men,

   the very best men

Note: Tender Buttons is a collection of Gertrude Stein’s poetry that spoke about everyday objects and uncomplicated events such as shopping eating, talking.  She brought together the ordinary experiences with extraordinary new grammar.

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Ernest Hemingway, Ford Madox Ford, Gertrude Stein, New Years

New Years with Ford Madox Ford

A Paris Rose

Gertrude Stein came up with the expression:The Lost Generation, after she encountered a young car attendant who failed to impress her with his mechanic skills. The garage owner confided  that young men were easy to train, compared with those in their mid-twenties to thirties who had served in WWI.  He called them the lost generation – une génération perdue.  Ernest Hemingway popularized the term in his novel “The Sun Also Rises” and gives credit to Gertrude Stein.  It came to refer to a cohort that came of age during WWI and included distinguished artists such as Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, T.S. Eliot, John Dos Passos, Waldo Pierce, Isadora Duncan, Alan Seeger, Erich Maria Remarque and Ford Madox Ford.

Born in 1873, Ford Madox Ford was a prominent English novelist and editor. At the start of WWI, he worked with the British War Propaganda Bureau, writing two propaganda books.  On July 30, 1915, at the age of 41, he joined the Welch Regiment and was sent to France.  This decision marked the end of his cooperation with the British propaganda machine and changed the direction of his literary endeavours.

As I look forward to a new year, I am inspired by Ford Madox Ford.  When confronted with the reality of conflict, he chose a different path – the truth.  May we remember his courage as we move forward… Continue reading

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