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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

This week. We spoke Oke with Gerald Stern in New York City. Stern says he's been writing poetry for thousand years. When people see how old I am? They say are visual writing. Are you kidding technically. It's been eighty three years. He started writing at the age of twelve. The poem torn in coach. which you are about to hear borrows the phrase from Joyce who borrowed the phrase from one of these ups fables? The aunt worked all summer summer saving food. For the winter. The grasshopper lean disalvo spit. Tobacco had a good time came to winter in the aunt had plenty to eat and the grass out for head. Nothing the grasshopper begs is the anti give him food. And the ant says no Joyce's concept in Finnegans wake was a great hct. Hernan will expecting expecting grace to befall him from the grace of God or whoever gives grace so joyce renamed the animal a grace hopper oper. Here's Gerald Stern reading. The poem torn coat recorded his to have forgotten the torn coat of Vicky Zamora Korea from Puccini's La. boheme enter. Remember the other coats for Mao Torre on down and look what it is to give your own code away three times now and to walk shivering in three different countries countries of tears. The opportunity in tears for a horse all bone on hillside without a blanket in him laughing at me because there were no tears left for freezing grace hct. I don't know how to explain this but sometimes reading poems that come in a word just leaps out at you and Dan you never for you now. You never forget the word but you never forget where you I sort of thought about it and and I think most people not to give things away or says them terribly of the but when you get to the end of the home in you see grace hopper as a word you think it's Typo in thank. Thank my colleagues here kept querying. Let's racer but when I saw it I just the Joyce didn't come to mind. I'll be honest but I knew I knew. A grace hopper is a perfect thing to have come into existence if it isn't already there and so you know the poem had me with the very last word I mean what comes before is lovely and I'm very fond of this palm but I think it had be at grace oper. Yes in. It's a great gift. That a poem can give you a a word or a phrase that just sort of lodges itself and there's you know I'll be looking around wherever I go now for Grace Sir grace home and I and I think one or two. Yes yeah it does it. It really startles you sort of at that ending. Yeah it makes you just make your way all the way up the palm again and just looking to how we got there. It's a one-sentence in this poem. It's it's really moving and turning towards that culmination and man. There's so many coats in the wrong and I ages started thinking about all the coats that we know. I mean not only the ones that are listed here like the Puccini coat but Josephine is many colored coat. And even you know Yates's code and I made my song. Coat covered with embroideries out evolve mythologies it's like that's part of what's going on in this poem as well but it also seems to me it's taking some of of these coats out of their mythological mantles an into this moment of generosity. Right look what it is is to give your own code away three times now and to walk shivering in three different countries. And I think it's just so hard to talk about an act of kindness like that without it being a sort of shall we say virtue signaling or something like that and one of the one of the ways that this poem really distances itself from. That seems to me as using the you rather than the I if we assume that maybe the I actually did these things. And and also that repetition of look what it is you know look what it is to have forgotten the torn code in the Puccini Opera. And look what it is to give your our own code away. And there's a kind of parallelism about that in which forgetting in giving away seem to be laterally positioned there there and I really appreciated that about this poem. Because it's it's about so much I mean it's about the presence and sort of symbolic mobility of some of these coats in poetry and in the Old Testament and in you know sort of their all of these again all of these codes but then also there. Are these acts of kindness. That can happen as we're told three times now and speaker of the poem doesn't really fully say that he in this case gave his coat away but just look what it is to give your own code away so it becomes. The coat becomes transformed into something that can actually help to warm a real living person Jason or a horse who was all bones on hillside without a blanket. I love the way this poem made all of that happen. It's a short poem home. And the texture of it is very complex complexly woven the title of course is torn coat and yet when you get through that part about that tears. Here's for the opportunity tears for horse. It's sort of tears. Tears happening somehow there and when you think of torn born coat you're liable to think of a coat that's been in use for a long time or as experienced like its owner Sir hardships. You know it's torn and there's sort of an interesting interesting kind of thing that happens when you realize that you've been describing. The poem is about. It's about many things but if you give your own code oh two way then you go back to is like was it torn off. You know you you gave it away. What kind of coat was it? Well it could be any kind of co because there are so many precedents. Yes yes as a as a kind of covering is very eerie. Because you have to think about so many in different kinds of things simultaneously. You have to think about all these coats you have to think about. You know most people are capable of generosity. One if you give a code away you might do that once Twice three times. That's a Lotta coat giving away that's right and it's it's like at the same time the landscape in which this occurs sort of move salon from like the kind of culture urban world of the the opera to mount hor on down all the way down. And then you're left with this horse all bone on a hillside in you have to think about the freezing Graham because ultimately if you encounter a freezing grace hopper can you give it a coat. What is the right coat for freezing grace hopper so there are many gifts given their eater in this palm but most of them are kind of questions that have no oh answers you sort of have to peel off meaning for yourself the way? The poem describes peeling off