Gertrude Stein in (con)text(s)

This week’s Wordsalad will continue the observance of Gertrude Stein’s birthday month with more audio clips, augmented with commentary by Cyrena Pondrom, whom I interviewed today. A professor of English at UW-Madison, Pondrom speaks to a broad range of issues and artistic movements in modernism and the avant garde. She is now on my Top Ten list of people I’d like to have a beer with. But Pondrom may ruffle some feathers as she argues that we’re mistaken to apply the term “post-modern” to any living artist. Why? Because we’re still teasing out all the implications of what the modernists set out a century ago.
“Post- ” is premature.
As radio is an aural medium I’ll include complementary music, by Steve Reich (whose shimmering cells of slowly changing micro units offer an analogue to some of Stein’s prose) and by John Cage (check out Cage’s debt to Stein in Richard Kostelanetz’s “John Cage (ex)plain(ed)” and Joan Retallack’s “Musicage: Cage Muses on Words Art and Music”). If radio were a visual medium I’d provide images by Picasso and Duchamp. But it ain’t, so I hope you’ll tune in anyway for this week’s Portrait of Pondrom on Wordsalad (1 p.m. Thursday at


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