Happy 90th Birthday Gerd!
Since today is his birthday, I can't think of a better time to announce that the papers of poet and media artist Gerd Stern (1928-) are now processed and available. How do I begin talking about what an experience it's been? As with a few other collections I've been honored to work with, the roots and branches are seemingly endless. Stern connects McClure to McLuhan, Brockman to Brand, de Angulo to di Suvero. A tireless networker with deep involvement in many fields, his collection provides many avenues for research. While Stern is perhaps best known as a primary force behind the arts collective USCO and later president of media production company Intermedia Systems, his papers also contain a great deal of his activity prior to USCO, especially in the swinging San Francisco of the 1950s in which commercial and artistic worlds freely intermingled. A cursory outline of Stern around this time: He managed composer Harry Partch, was namedropped in Herb Caen columns, wrote for Playboy magazine, dated Maya Angelou, read at poetry gatherings, was a publicity agent for food, wine, and fashion, went fishing with S.I. Hayakawa, marketed bamboo bongo drums, ate peyote with Philip Lamantia, hosted jazz parties on his Sausalito barge with musicians like Chet Baker along with films and dancers, and produced fine press poetry broadsides with his wife Ann London. Stern worked at public radio station KPFA and was close to founder Lew Hill. He had met anthropologist/storyteller Jaime de Angulo in Big Sur on his first trip West and was an early champion of his work, as well as later that of Marshall McLuhan. Perhaps the best part is that Gerd maintained dated outgoing drafts of all his correspondence, so we have a solid chronology on top of it. Two researchers have already begun working with the collection. The first of many!
Here's a few glimpses of what can be found: