REVIEW: Macari and Stern


Students and community members gathered at the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts Oct. 6 to hear poets Anne Marie Macari and Gerald Stern.

More than 100 people of all different ages and backgrounds packed into the Schrott Center. Some were students looking to achieve a Butler Cultural Requirement, while others came to engage in the readings of renowned poets.

The first one of these poets was Macari. Macari has written four volumes of poetry that contain images of nighttime and darkness, received the APR/Honickman First Book Prize in Poetry.

Linda Lee, 76, brought “Red Deer,” Macari’s latest poetry volume, to the event. She admitted to knowing little about the author but was fascinated with the book’s topic of cave drawings.

“I enjoy hearing other poets read their work,” she said.

Macari read to the audience from “Red Deer,” which was inspired after Macari’s trip to the caves in northern Spain. Some poems read included “All Souls” and “Neanderthal Flute.” Describing the caves she saw, Macari said she realized there is a “whole other world we’ve forgotten about.”

To finish her portion of reading, Macari shared some new poems of hers that were more song-like. These included “The Rolling Deep” and “Blest, Thine, Blest.” The names of these poems derived from spiritual shakers.

The next poet to take the stage was Gerald Stern. Stern, 90, has published 20 volumes of poetry and been the recipient of the National Book Award and Ruth Lily Poetry Prize.

Emma Etchason, a Butler student in the intro to poetry class, learned about Stern in her course and found him to be a very brave man, going against societal norms to become a poet.  

“He writes his beliefs,” Etchason said after the event. “He states them very well on the page.”

Stern read from a variety of his poems dated from 1975 to 2015. He even joked that some were from the year 2020. Some of his older poems included “The Dog,” about a talking dead dog, and “Short Words,” a belief poem. His newer poems contained “Plaster Pig” and his final poem, fittingly entitled “One More.”

The question-and-answer session revealed many things about both Macari and Stern. One of the questions asked how they both went about the writing process. Stern took charge of the response and began, “Take a pencil. Then grab your right hand.”

The audience erupted with laughter. Macari then took a more serious approach and told everyone not to deliberate too much when writing.

Her final comment left the audience to ponder. “Magic,” she said, “can happen if you’re not overthinking.”