WhenThen by Gerd Stern


Gerd Stern’s poetry brings love, rhythm and wisdom to a world that needs all. WhenThen speaks to the truth, even when it’s tragic. Like the great Beats of his generation, his is a distinctive voice of insurgence and play. Pixilated imagery reveals a spiritual mind in motion. WhenThen is HereNow. —Rozanne Gold

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  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 92
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: May, 2018
  • ISBN: 978-1-948017-08-4


Among other vignettes of Beatnik days, WhenThen, Gerd Stern’s collection, beautifully edited by Sara Grossman, offers a scene at the New York Psychiatric Institute featuring Carl Solomon and a papier-mâché Easter bunny. But behind the quirky facade we can glimpse another poetic presence: generous, wise, alert to history and mystery. These concise poems have room for awe: “could it abin Hashem/had a thing/about shells,” wonders the poet. Some of the work here circles a central topic. When Stern asks “is this a love poem or one of these offerings to sail over contention and convention,” the only possible answer is: both. After all, “love is only enough/to hold each other/as if forever were now.” —Rachel Hadas

For Gerd, words are a magical elixir: he turns simple observations into profound insights. As Gerd is fond of saying: “No-Ow-Now.” Through his word visions, we can know then, now, and so much more. Once you overstand, you’ll recognize what these words can do. —Ed Rosenfeld, author

Whenever I look for the avant-garde in literature and the arts, I often lament, thinking that I must forge one for myself. Then I regard Gerd Stern sternly and know that he was/is the last of the red hot Dadas of the avant-garde, back when/then he delighted us with his poetry and artistic enterprise and continues to delight us in his WhenThen, this delightful collection of poems, which prove his mastery and mystery. Got ‘em. Anyone who thinks he/she/it knows poetry should get this book and mind-bend all over again. —John J. Trause

Gerd is the poet of prepositions and conjunctions. —Edward Baugh


Sine Cera

no obligation to be myself
this or any other

but being here now
driven by presence of
past and future
to become

we are all one hope
for twogetherness
aloneness promise
bonding our origins,
beliefs, and mortality


Gerd SternAt 89 years of age “WhenThen” is my fourth collection of published poems, following “Fragments” (2002), “Afterimage” (1965) and “First Poems and Others” (1952).

In 1996, the Regional Oral History office of the Bancroft Library, University of California, published “Gerd Stern, From Beat Scene Poet to Psychedelic Multimedia

Artist in San Francisco and Beyond, 1948-1978”. Many additional publications have featured my work and that of USCO, “The Company of US,” the collaborative artist commune of which I was a principal, along with Michael Callahan and Stephen Durkee, from the 1960s onward. From those ago days, I still treasure my poem mantra “Take the NO out of NOW, Then Take the OW out of NOW, Then Take the THEN out of NOW.”  —Gerd Stern

Additional information

Weight 8 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in