Poetic Justice

Originally posted: April 19, 2012

What do Beatle Paul McCartney, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Gerald Stern, Drew’s distinguished poet-in-residence, have in common?  All three were among the accomplished leaders from academia, business, public affairs, the humanities and the arts who were recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as part of its 2012 class of inductees.

Mihaela Moscaliuc, director of Drew’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Poetry program, says Stern’s distinctiveness, social conscience and attention to the world around him are just some of his qualities that fit the profile of an academy member.

“Gerald Stern is an American original, a unique and most prominent voice in contemporary poetry whose teachings extend beyond that world,” she says.  “We learn from him about living compassionately and responsibly, and he is a catalyst for what it means to be and to live as a poet.”

According to Leslie C. Berlowitz, president of the academy, membership is not only a high honor, but also an opportunity to help solve society’s most urgent problems.

“Election to the academy is both an honor for extraordinary accomplishment and a call to serve,” she says.  “We look forward to drawing on the knowledge and expertise of these distinguished men and women to advance solutions to the pressing policy challenges of the day.”

Stern, who was born in Pittsburgh in 1925, is the prolific author of 18 acclaimed books of poetry.  He is a past winner of both the Wallace Stevens Award from the American Academy of Poets and the National Book Award for “This Time: New and Selected Poems.”  He holds degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia University, and is currently the chancellor of the American Academy of Poets.  He also currently serves as Drew’s distinguished poet-in-residence for its MFA in Poetry program and was awarded an honorary degree from the university in 2009.  He was the State of New Jersey’s first-ever poet laureate and is preparing to publish his memoir, “Stealing History,” which is due in bookstores later this year.

Stern is in good company among this year’s 220 academy inductees, who are joining the more than 250 Nobel laureates and 60 Pulitzer Prize winners who are current members.  Founded in 1780, some of the academy’s earliest members included George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.  In the 19th century, it added Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson, who were followed by Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the 20th.

The new class will be inducted into the academy at a ceremony on October 6 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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