Rosmarie Waldrop

Born in Germany in 1935, Rosmarie Waldrop immigrated into the US in 1958. She has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan and has taught at Wesleyan, Tufts, and Brown Universities. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, with Keith Waldrop (with whom she also co-edited Burning Deck Press).

Her books of poetry include, from New Directions: A Key Into the Language of America, Blindsight, the trilogy Curves to the Apple, and Driven to Abstraction; from other publishers: Love Like Pronouns (Omnidawn), Split Infinites (Singing Horse), Splitting Image (Zasterle), Another Language: Selected Poems (Talisman House), and Gap Gardening: Selected Poems (LA Times Book Prize in Poetry 2017).

Two novels, The Hanky of Pipsin’s Daughter and A Form/of Taking/It All, have been reissued in one paperback by Northwestern University Press. Her collected essays, Dissonance (if you are interested), was published by University of Alabama Press.

She has translated fourteen volumes of Edmond Jabès’s work (The Book of Questions, The Book of Resemblances, etc.) for which she received the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award. Her memoir/study, Lavish Absence: Recalling and Rereading Edmond Jabès is out from Wesleyan University Press.

She has also translated, from the French, Jacques Roubaud and Emmanuel Hocquard; and from the German, Friederike Mayröcker, Elke Erb, Ernst Jandl, Oskar Pastior, Ulf Stolterfoht (Pen Award for Poetry in Translation), Peter Waterhouse and Elfriede Czurda.

Her work has appeared in anthologies like Postmodern American Poetry (Norton, 1994), From the Other Side of the Century: New American Poetry 1960–90 (Sun and Moon, 1994), Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women (Talisman House, 1998), Poems for the Millennium, vol. II (University of California Press, 1998), American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry (2009), and North American Women Poets of the 21st Century: Beyond Lyric and Language, ed. Lisa Sewell & Kazim Ali, Wesleyan University Press, 2020, pp. 416-457 [with an essay, “Attending to Absence,” by Richard Greenfield].

Translations of her work have been published in France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Greece, Italy, Spain, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Mexico, and Brazil.

She has received awards or fellowships from the NEA, the Fund for Poetry, the Howard Foundation, the DAAD Berlin Artists’ Program, the Foundation of Contemporary Arts, and a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award. She has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the French government has made her a “Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.”

Author photo by Steven Evans.

The Nick of Time

“If memory serves, it was five years ago that yours began to refuse,” Rosmarie Waldrop writes to her husband in The Nick of Time. “Does it feel like crossing from an open field into the woods, the sunlight suddenly switched off? Or like a roof without edge or frame, pushed sideways in time?” Ten years in the making, Waldrop’s phenomenally beautiful new collection explores the felt nature of existence as well as gravity and velocity, the second hemisphere of time, mortality and aging, language and immigration, a Chinese primer, the artist Hannah Höch, and dwarf stars.…
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Gap Gardening: Selected Poems

Rosmarie Waldrop says Gap Gardening “spans forty years of exploring the language I breathe and move in and that continues to condition me even while I try to contribute to it. It tracks my turn from verse to prose poems, to focusing on the sentence and its boundaries, my increasing reliance on collage and source texts as a way of engaging with other voices, of being in dialogue.” Gap Gardening also traces Waldrop’s growing sense of writing as an exploration of what happens in between.…
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Driven to Abstraction

Driven to Abstraction is Rosmarie Waldrop’s sixth collection of poetry with New Directions. The first of its two sections, “Sway-Backed Powerlines,” consists of five sequences of prose poems whose subject matter ranges from voyages of discovery and the second Iraq war to geometry, memory, and the music of John Cage. Part two, the title sequence, investigates the tendency to abstraction in our lives which, in the West, began with the Renaissance introduction of zero into arithmetic, the vanishing point into perspective, and imaginary money in economics.…
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Curves To The Apple

Rosmarie Waldrop’s Curves to the Apple brings together three highly praised and influential titles: The Reproduction of Profiles, Lawn of Excluded Middle, and Reluctant Gravities. Though originally published separately, these prose poems have always been intended as a loose trilogy of thought and feeling—or of thought manifested as feeling. The author comments: “Just as the title, Curves to the Apple, combines the organic and geometry (not to mention myth and history of science) the poems navigate the conflicting, but inextricable claims of body and mind, especially the female body and feelings in a space of logic and physics.…
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For the title of her newest collection of prose poems, Rosmarie Waldrop adopts a term––“blindsight”––used by the neuroscientist Antonio R. Damasio to describe a condition in which a person actually sees more than he or she is consciously aware. Like the dwellers in Plato’s cave, what each of us apprehends is never more than tiny fragments of the whole, and it is only with our blindsight that we can stretch our perceptions and understanding beyond our physical limitations.…
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Reluctant Gravities

In her new volume of prose poem “dialogues,” Reluctant Gravities, Rosmarie Waldrop once again pushes the boundaries and definitions of poetry, prose, gender, relationship, even language itself. Intended as a sequel to The Reproduction of Profiles and Lawn of Excluded Middle, Reluctant Gravities gives the rhetorical “you” addressed in those earlier volumes a voice and response. Some of Waldrop’s concerns are formal. As the author herself says, she “cultivates cuts, discontinuity, leaps, shifts of reference” in an attempt to compensate for the lack of margin, where verse would turn toward the white of the page, toward what is not.…
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A Key Into The Language Of America

The legacy of cultural imperialism, the consequences of gender, and the marginalization of the conquered are themes that combine and comment, one on the other, in Rosmarie Waldrop’s remarkable new work, A Key into the Language of America. As “formally adventurous” (A.L. Nielson, Washington Review) as ever, German-born Waldrop has based her new collection on Rhode Island founder Roger Williams’s 1643 guide (of the same name) to Narragansett Indian language and lore.…
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The Reproduction Of Profiles

Do Wittgenstein and water mix? Philosophy and the facts of everyday life? The remarkable prose poems in Rosmarie Waldrop’s The Reproduction of Profiles prove that startling new insights are possible when philosophical formulations are turned on their heads. The poet comments “I used Wittgenstein’s phrases in a free, unsystematic way, sometimes quoting, sometimes letting them spark what they would, sometimes substituting different nouns within a phrase (e g., his famous anti-metaphysical statement that ’the deepest questions are no questions at all’ becomes ’You could prove to me that the deepest rivers are, in fact, no rivers at all’).…
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The Shadow of the Coachman's Body

Fiction by Peter Weiss

Translated by Rosmarie Waldrop

From the revolutionary author of Marat/Sade, a meticulously observed and macabre novel of hell on earth. The Shadow of the Coachman’s Body was unanimously praised as an original work of art by critics when it first appeared in 1960. Here, in poet Rosmarie Waldrop’s pitch-perfect translation, Weiss presents a vividly alive black comedy of inert objects—stones, buttons, needles, tin cups, celestial orbs, an overwound music box—with a supporting cast of the oblique residents of a dismal boarding house.…
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A page of Waldrop will focus the reader on the intricate (or simple) ways words connect or fail to connect, depend on or defy punctuation, suggest or deny meaning.
The American Book Review
Nearly fifty years of lyric riffs, meditations, and collages…seek to simultaneously define, deconstruct, and, finally, re-construct a mind in motion.
Music & Literature
[Waldrop] maintains a distinctly American voice—quick-witted, conversational, and visually concrete: a poetry that pleases no less than it puzzles.
Voice Literary Supplement
One of the leading voices in contemporary American poetry.
Boston Review
Waldrop compels us to seek out new superlatives.
—Ben Lerner
Rosmarie Waldrop should be recognized as a national treasure.
The Providence Journal
Working on a deceptively small scale, she maps a geography of intimate feeling.
—Geoffrey O’Brien, Newsday
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