Reviews for Leaving Another Kingdom : Selected Poems

Library Journal Reviews 1990 February #2
The cumulative effect of Stern's thought makes this substantial collection worth reading. Confidentially addressing the reader in long, expansive, Whitmanesque lines, his longer poems are the most successful. Stern ( Paradise Poems , LJ 8/84; Lovesick , LJ 9/1/87) goes on an unending quest to understand the kalei doscopic mystery of individual experience: the beloved woman he did not marry, the search for justice, the mo ments of intense joy from nature and books, the sadness of life. His America is populated less by cultural landmarks than by grief and loss: ``in America, all that richness, all that Utopia, wasted''; in rotting Lambertville, New Jersey, people walk ``past abandoned factories and wooden garages/ . . . to stinking New Hope, where all their deep longing/ is reduced to an hour and a half of greedy buying.'' As with all long collec tions, this one is uneven, but honest, ambitious, and recommended.-- Bettina Drew, City Coll., CUNY Copyright 1990 Cahners Business Information.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 1990 January #3
Lax editing of this hefty collection, whose entries span 15 years, obscures the poetic sensibility of an accomplished writer; a profusion of second-rate efforts clouds the exceptional works included here. Stern's ( Lovesick ) candor fizzles into coziness (``I love the cows best when they are a few feet away'' in ``Cow Worship''; ``I love the sight of me / rolled over on the ground'' in ``Song''; ``I sat on my porch trying to make up my mind / about the Pablo Picasso I love the most'' in ``The Picasso Poem''; ``I still love Schubert /most of all'' in ``Stopping Schubert''). The density of allusions to philosophers, artists and other poets creates a rarefied, even clubby tone. Readers undeterred by the lack of pruning, however, will be rewarded by poems like ``Another Insane Devotion''--empathetic forays into the contradictions within nature, art, the self, relationships that are delicately sustained and beautifully nuanced. (Feb.) Copyright 1990 Cahners Business Information.