An anthology of poets responding to Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons in creative form, with room for the reader to join in.
Each using a section of Stein's Tender Buttons as inspiration, a far-flung community of poets responds with experiments, interpretations, and imaginative imitations of Stein's willful and whimsical disruptions. Space is provided where the reader may join the conversation with their own responses, making this volume a springboard to new work for the adventurous writer. Editor Alenier has studied Stein for most of her life, and selects some of her own Stein-influenced poems from the past five decades to share within the collection. In addition, 37 other poets from diverse backgrounds, ages from 19 to 90, join in the linguistic revels at Alenier's invitation.
Contributors Include: Indran Amirthanayagam, Rae Armantrout, Mary Armour, Carrie Bennett, Margo Berdeshevsky, Julien Berman, Andrea Carter Brown, Susana H. Case, Grace Cavalieri, Nikia Chaney, Roberto Christiano, Henry Crawford, Michael Davis, Denise Duhamel, Amy Feinstein, Barbara Goldberg, Harold M. Greenwald, Donald Illich, Jacqueline Johnson, Hiram Larew, JoAnne McFarland, Kevin McLellan, Nils Michals, Brad Richard, Margery M. Ross, Martha Sanchez-Lowery, Roger Sedarat, Lisa Sewell, Margo Taft Stever, Miles Waggener, Lillo Way, Nancy White, Carolyne Wright, Bill Yarrow, Burgi Zenhaeusern, & Jason Zuzga
“This collection of responses to Gertrude Stein is astonishing, yes—but it is also useful. Karren Alenier, one of our most intrepid and experienced Steinists, organizes for us a juxtaposition of an original Tender Button poem and a contemporary poetic reply, echo, return, or reciprocation. There is so much echoing already in Stein; this brilliant anthological conception furthers the resonance. The new poems answer, elaborate, poetically interpret. The famous ‘sudden spoon’ of Stein’s ‘Malachite’ becomes, for instance, an opportunity for your body to be ‘a spoon that remembers the carrying’ such that you can finally hear ‘a tiny wail from the next room.’ Now enter that other room. Stein will be there too, awaiting you.” —Al Filreis, author of 1960: When Art and Literature Confronted the Memory of World War II
“Every turn of the page in the anthology From the Belly is a surprise and a revelation. What I initially thought of as a daunting undertaking—it’s Gertrude Stein, for goodness’ sake!—proved itself to be an exercise in imaginative craft and a demonstration of profound admiration. Part dialogue, part call-and-response, experimentation-prone, the collection captures Tender Buttons’ linguistic acrobatics, lyrical mystery, boundless playfulness, its sing-song, word-whirl, and top-spin.” —Joseph O. Legaspi, author of Threshold
“This cleverly conceived collection of poems written in response to Tender Buttons achieves what Gertrude Stein herself was always striving for: moments of dialogue on the page, forged in the immediacy of reading. Each one of the poets featured here understands that the glorious openness of Stein’s writing can be responded to in multiple poetic ways. Not only does this book teach us how to read Tender Buttons closely, it also serves as a delightful and illuminating introduction to a selection of fine contemporary poets.” — Barbara Will, author of Gertrude Stein, Modernism, and the Problem of Genius
Poetry. Poetics. Anthologies.
Karren LaLonde Alenier is author of eight poetry collections-most recently HOW WE HOLD ON (Broadstone Books, 2021). Gertrude Stein Invents a Jump Early On, her jazz opera with composer Bill Banfield, premiered June 2005 in New York by Encompass New Opera Theatre.