Gerald Stern on the winners of the 2013 Raynes Poetry Competition
I like—very much—Goldman’s poem, “At The Cubby Hole Bar,” because it addresses the subject—the American Dream—indirectly and as a poem, with all the ambiguity and metaphor you could—and should—find there instead of rhetorically and politically; and, closely connected, because it is not—in the least—sentimental. A whole novel is contained in the poem; it will appeal—in its plain language—to anyone (all of us) who knows the facts. It is tender, moving, honest, and accurate.
Altfeld’s “American Taxidermy,” one of the two second prizes, is original, inventive, and the language is excellent. The other, Cathleen Cohen’s “Equations,” is also extremely interesting and well-written, particularly in its transfer of emotion (to the deer) at the end.
Gerald Stern selected the three prizewinners of the 2013 Alexander and Dora Raynes Poetry Competition from 700 entries from more than 250 poets. He has been described as “a post-nuclear, multicultural [Walt] Whitman for the millennium — the U.S.’s one and only truly global poet” (Kate Daniels). Born in Pittsburgh on February 22, 1925, Stern was already fifty when his poetry first received critical acclaim, and his many awards since then include a 1998 National Book Award for This Time: New and Selected Poems. He was poet laureate of New Jersey from 2000 to 2002. (From the February 22, 2012 Jewdayo profile.)