Gerald Daniel Stern was born February 22, 1925 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His parents, Harry and Ida Barach Stern, were Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine and Poland, respectively, who lived on Wylie Avenue in the city's Hill District, but later moved to an apartment on Beechwood Boulevard in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill. The second of two children, Stern was deeply affected by the death of his older sister, Sylvia, from cerebrospinal meningitis when he was eight years old. Stern attended Pittsburgh public schools, graduating from Taylor Allderdice High School in 1942. He was then admitted to the University of Pittsburgh, where he majored in English and was a member of the Men's Debating Association and Men's Glee Club. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Pitt in 1947 and a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University in 1949. He did post-graduate study at the Université de Paris (1949-1950) and at Columbia University (1950-1952), but never completed the coursework necessary for a Ph. D. On September 12, 1952, Stern married Patricia Miller, with whom he has two children, David and Rachel. Stern and his wife divorced in the late 1980s. Stern served in the United States Army Air Corps in 1946 and 1947. From 1951 to 1953, he was an English teacher and later principal at Lake Grove School, Long Island, N.Y. In 1954, during a tour of Europe with his wife Pat, he taught at Victoria Drive Senior Secondary School in Glasgow, Scotland. Upon returning to the United States in 1956, Stern accepted the position of instructor in Temple University's English Department, where he taught until 1963. From 1963 to 1967, he served as an assistant professor in the English Department at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and from 1968 to 1982 he was a professor at Somerset County (later known as Raritan Valley) Community College in Somerville, N.J. During this latter period, he also conducted poetry workshops at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., (1975-1978) and Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y. (Spring 1977), as well as serving as a visiting professor at the University of Pittsburgh (Fall 1978) and Columbia University (1980). Stern also acted as literature consultant to both New Jersey's and Pennsylvania's Council of the Arts, as well as coordinator of the Pennsylvania Poetry in the Schools Program (1974-1978). In 1982, Stern joined the faculty at the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, where he held the position of senior poet until 1995. He continued his visits to other universities, serving as Chairman of Creative Writing at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa (1984); Fanny Hurst Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. (1985); Visiting Professor at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa. (1988); Holder of Bain Swiggert Chair at Princeton University (1989); Visiting Professor at New York University (1989); and Poet-in-Residence at Bucknell University (1994). In 2002, Stern co-founded the New England College's Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Program in Poetry with friend and former student Chard deNiord, and served as one of its inaugural faculty members. Most recently, Stern became a Distinguished Poet-in-Residence for the MFA Program in Poetry at Drew University, Madison, N.J., in January 2009. Gerald Stern is the author of fifteen books of poetry, one collection of personal essays, and one verse play. His first major published work was a long poem entitled "The Pineys," which first appeared in the Journal of the Rutgers University Library in 1971, when Stern was 46. Since then, he has given countless poetry readings and lectures throughout the United States and Europe and conducted several poetry workshops. He has been awarded numerous prestigious honors and prizes for his work. Among these are: National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) Master Poet of Pennsylvania Grant, 1973-1975; NEA Creative Writing Grants, 1976, 1981, 1987; 1977 Lamont Poetry Selection Award for Lucky Life; 1978 Nominee, National Book Critics Circle Award for Lucky Life; 1979 Pennsylvania Creative Writing Grant; 1980 Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts; 1980 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship; 1980 Bess Hokin Award for Poetry; 1981 Paris Review's Bernard F. Connor Award; 1982 Melville Caine Award from the Poetry Society of America for The Red Coal; 1984 Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets; 1992 Paterson Poetry Prize from Passaic County (N.J.) Community College for Bread Without Sugar; 1993 Fellow of the Academy of American Poets; 1996 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for Lifetime Achievement; 1998 National Book Award for Poetry for This Time: New and Selected Poems; 2000-2002 Poet Laureate of New Jersey; 2005 Wallace Stevens Award; 2005 National Jewish Book Award for Poetry; 2006 Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
From the description of Gerald Stern papers, 1920s-2007. (University of Pittsburgh). WorldCat record id: 568728991