Awards Season for Stern
Drew’s Distinguished Poet-in-Residence Gerald Stern receives back-to-back honors from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the Library of Congress.
Internationally renowned poet Gerald Stern, who serves as one of the core faculty of Drew University’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Poetry program, has received back-to-back honors from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AAAS) and the Library of Congress. The two prestigious accolades, beginning with his induction into the AAAS last month, came in such close succession that he began making plans to accept his second award, the Rebecca Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, almost immediately upon returning from his initiation into the academy.
“The AAAS induction was a very uplifting and fulfilling experience for me, which made it even more exciting to come home to news of another award,” he says.
As a member of the AAAS 232nd class, Stern shared his induction with 179 other prominent figures, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Beatle Paul McCartney and broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff. Founded in 1780, the academy is one of America’s oldest and most prestigious learned societies, with some of its earliest members being George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who were followed later by Albert Einstein and a throng of other revered figures.
The AAAS serves as an independent research center that draws from its members’ expertise to conduct studies in science and technology policy, global security, the humanities and culture, social policy, and education. Stern says he finds this research mission to be the most appealing aspect of membership.
“The AAAS is not just an honorary society—it’s bent on changing the world and doing good,” he says. “That gives me a certain amount of delight.”
According to Stern, the Bobbitt prize—the second of his recent high honors—is in recognition of his recently published book, “Early Collected Poems: 1965-1992,” making him the first recipient in the award’s 12-year history to win for an anthology of prior works.
Born in 1925 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Stern 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.—Michael Bressman