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Home > Author > Gerard Sarnat
 
Gerard Sarnat

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  Gerard Sarnat

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"...HOMELESS CHRONICLES from Abraham to BurningMan is a viscous kind of cerebral punk… powerhouse knocks you off your rocker …”


Background Information

Alms Rounds — You Go Your Way, I’ll Go Mine

 

AS A KID, I DIDN’T DIG JESUS ‘CAUSE I WAS A JEW.

SOON WEARY OF TEEN PRINCESSES AND CHOSEN PEOPLE

I BEGAN TO GROOVE ON HIS COOL, FELL IN LOVE WITH A BLOND

STRUMMED HER GUITAR FOR ME ONCE, GAVE US BOTH UP FOR CHRIST.

 

IN FLAGRANTE, THE UNMAIDENLY NUN FLED CONVENT HABIT AND WIMPLE

BUT STAYED VIRGIN MARY TO MY HEAD IF NOT MANHOOD BELOW.

OBSESSING GERARD MANLEY, I CONJURED IMMACULATE BIRTHS, BONES RISING

MADE NO MORE SENSE THAN YAHWEH’S FIRE AND BRIMSTONE MISHIGAS.

 

AFTER SUI GENERIS BEAUTIFUL MUSIC, WE LOST TRACK

OVER AN INTERESTED MAN’S RICH CATHOLIC LIFE

WHICH TOO PASSED LIKE ALL THOSE LATINATE HOLY MAGIC TRICKS.

(TWICE SHE PHONED, WOKE THE WIFE WITH JESUITICAL QUOTIDIANS.)

 

I SPEND LAST DAYS BEFORE LAST RITES WANDERING PLACE-TO-PLACE

WEAR WHAT I OWN, A SADHU WHO CARRIES A BHIKSHA BOWL

PRAY, FAST, BEG, BLESS; AND REGRETTING MO. CHURCH’S RES JUDICATA

ONE BITE AT THE APPLE SIMULACRUM, STILL WHIMPER ‘BOUT THAT GIRL.

Birth Place
St. Louis, MO USA
Accomplishments

Gerard (Gerry) Sarnat is the great-great grandson of Jacob Ben Isaac Gesundheit, the High Rabbi of Warsaw, and shtetl lowlifes, Nahum Z. and Yente Liebe Sarnatzky. He is a father of three, grandpa to two, and has been married forty-plus years.

A virginal poet at the tender age of sixty-four, originally writing about caring for the homeless and happenings in the lands of Abraham and Burning Man, during 2008 his work was published in over sixty journals and anthologies and was commended or won poetry competitions and prizes inside and outside the US. In 2009 Gerry began editing literary journals. In 2010 he was invited to teach at the university level and began readings, radio interviews available as free iTunes podcasts, and workshops domestically and in Israel.

Gerry’s Harvard and Stanford educated, a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. He has been a professor at Stanford Medical School, and CEO/chief medical officer for national healthcare companies. Gerry has set up and staffed clinics for the disenfranchised, served on international non- profit boards and chaired community organizations.

Additional Information

All six HOMELESS REVIEWS TO DATE: (1) Gerard Sarnat's epic poems burst across the page with the glee usually reserved for shooting stars. This is a playful balls-out poet unafraid to temper bold statements with enough humor and compassion to make us nostalgic for his ecstatic profound view of life. He sings to us through the voice of a universal poet. Sarnat's written one hell of an exciting book!            -Suzanne Burns, Misfits and Other Heroes among other poetry collections (2) Gerry Sarnat's tough, witty, language-obsessed poems are both a post-holocaust reconstruction of his family's history and a progression towards a declaration of his own intention. In his seventh decade, after a medical career that included doctoring the homeless, the poet declares: “I must give birth.” I admire the skill of the poetry-often as precise as a diagnosis-as well as his labor-like decision. The poems may be unsentimental but they are also, importantly, emotional.            -Phyllis Koestenbaum, Stanford, Doris Day and Kitschy Melodies among other poetry collections (3) The epic poem HOMELESS CHRONICLES from Abraham to Burning Man . . . is an interesting foray into language. I can hear my tongue trying to form the words he uses like a rattler throatily teasing me from the first page of the book. From the Judean Desert of his heritage to Burning Man's pagan artsy Black Rock Desert, this rattler charms you, scares you and tells you before it is coming, warning the imminent charge long before you get to the bloom of the poem's end and see it for yourself. . . . The thrust of the book is this: Who do we tend to and why must we? . . . This book is a woven traffic of patterns he follows, synchronizing and priming through the forest of mankind, exposing us for the monkeys we are, and sometimes praising us along the battering route he has taken for being humane and human after all.              -Jane Crown, publishing editor of Heavy Bear, host of Jane Crown's Poetry Radio (4) HOMELESS CHRONICLES from Abraham to Burning Man is a viscous kind of cerebral punk. Sarnat, new to poetry at the age of sixty-four, is no Beatle, not even a Rolling Stone. Akin more to a prolific Sid Vicious, the highly educated Sarnat has emerged from the medical world and “delivering care to the disenfranchised” with poems that span time and circumstance. At his best Sarnat delivers a high-octane mix of history and imagery. In “Whimperbang: Yad Vashem Revisited,” Sarnat writes about touring Israel's official memorial to victims of the Holocaust. Opening with “Heine was right:/ when books burn, humans are destined to be next,” Sarnat's poem unfolds a series of visceral images. There are few if any songs of innocence between these pages, though lines like “I dreamt and redreamt a binary dream/ rooted in revenge and prayer for those up the smokestacks,” spin my head a bit and keep me tuned in to the final transition where Sarnat emerges into the present day with social commentary coming from his fellow tour companions: “The yeshiva bocker in side curls, skull cap, and black coat/ whose steps we've trailed these aching hours, / mutters something under his breath, what I take to mean, / “Enough. Let me out of here.” From shape poems to poems that hint at spoken word to an epithalamium which takes place at Burning Man, there is nowhere Sarnat is not willing to go, and nothing he isn't willing to risk. And while this book is a bit X-rated, there are some nice easy PG poems in here as well, including a favorite called “Edward Hopper Foster Care,” about the revival of both plant and patient. By my reckoning of Sarnat's poetry, if this powerhouse doesn't knock you off your rocker, I'm not sure what ever would.                -Cameron Scott, Sugar Mule (5) Gerard Sarnat comes lately to poetry but arrives with deep roots. We're immediately immersed in Gerry's ingenious transformation into Chassid Gesundheit Sarnatzky and his universal immigrant story. Sarnat's real journeys include a surprise encounter absolutely alone with the Dalai Lama in the Dharamsala airport transit room; range from New Mexico commune to namesake Sarnath to Myanmar, Machu Picchu and Burning Man with his kids; to bridging Eurasian sides of the Bosporus, gaps with homeless patients, and a husband and wife's weak smiles. Gerry's crackling brilliant debut collection is richly layered, engaging and really alive, irreverent and amusing, very strong, immensely enjoyable. Whether bringing pizza lunch to his 94 and 97 year-old parents, holding a daughter's newborn, or honoring sacred plants; one senses ground well traveled-though he often takes the other fork. I'd like to know this man!                   -Joan Logghe, University of New Mexico-Los Alamos Rice among other poetry collections (6) HOMELESS CHRONICLES from Abraham to Burning Man takes us on a journey from the sensual, innocent stages of growing up to an end reflection on whether “these jottings (will) see the light of day” . . . Gerard Sarnat talks about his experience with the homeless as he wanders “the asphalt with a toolbox of hope.” He is at his best when concrete and earthy. He describes Big Bad Bill, a dumpster diver with “weeping ankles wrapped in weeping rags” as he searches for “fungoid muffins, rancid tuna” from the trash. In “Irregular People: M-W-F,” written in short three line stanzas, we encounter graphically who the poet sees on his rounds at a community clinic-“ a bizarro ex-con,” Mona Lisa who “sashays in/mustache trimmed, cig hung/ Them shemale hormones sure work great!” and “Billie Holiday's cocoa butter double/ demure in torn tight jeans and pink plastic sandals / doesn't even know I exist.” Who are the homeless in this collection? They are the people of the street obviously but also the homeless are the WW11 refugees of his roots, the kids like himself who grew up coping with a multicultural world of the American melting pot. In the poem, “My Odyssey, My Iliad” we see the author far from home trying to return from the wars and the constant battles of his professional life as a modern day Odysseus. Here he becomes most lyrical and the cadence carries the narrative of the poem along with it. “Polishing off today's lineup of dopers and loners/ users and losers, screamers, moaners, schemers/ smashed shoulders and dreams.” The Homeless Chronicles is an interesting, often lyrical response to the historical and personal passage of time, the man and the writer from Abraham to Burning Man. -David Fraser, editor Ascent Aspirations





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