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About this poet

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Liz Waldner was raised in rural Mississippi. She received a BA in philosophy and mathematics from St. John's College, and an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

She wrote for eighteen years before her first book of poems, Homing Devices, was published in 1998 by O Books. Her second book, A Point Is That Which Has No Part (University of Iowa Press, 2000), received the 2000 James Laughlin Award and the 1999 Iowa Poetry Prize.

Since then, she has published several collections of poems, most recently Play (Lightful Press, 2009); Trust (Cleveland State University Press, 2009), winner of the Poetry Center Open Competition; Saving the Appearances (Ahsahta Press, 2004); Dark Would (the missing person) (University of Georgia Press, 2002) winner of the 2002 Contemporary Poetry Series; Etym(bi)ology (Omnidawn Press, 2002); and Self and Simulacra (2001), winner of the Alice James Books Beatrice Hawley Prize.

About Waldner's work, the poet Gillian Conoley has said, "Liz Waldner is a poet of high wit, high intelligence, and great musical rigor—she may be our Postmodern Metaphysical poet plummeting deeper and deeper with each book into the questions of self, sexuality, and knowing...." And the poet and critic Stephen Burt has said, "She has become one of the most convincing and most inspiring of our poets."

Waldner's honors include grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Boomerang Foundation, and the Barbara Deming Memorial Money for Women Fund. She has also received fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, the Djerassi Foundation, and the MacDowell Colony.

A Calculus of Readiness

Liz Waldner
I, too, come from the city of dolls. 
A small palm is my umbrella. 
This takes care of above
but below, the blind river of sadness rolls 
on and in it, a hand is always reaching up 
to pick fish from the night-time sky.

The lines on the palm of the hand lure a trout 
with a strand of hair from the head of a doll. 
The bait is the hope for a hand on your brow. 
Shadows play on the wall. Or the face of a doll. 
The plants eyeing each other
is all.

I would not call the stars generous.
They don't cry enough for dolls to play Drink Me. 
They don't cast a covenant's fishy rainbow 
yet leaf faces watch the open window 
where they hang far and hard.
The rein of starlight a second hand

with which to play Go Fish.
Now Give me a hand, plants. Now give me 
good-night, stars.

From A Point Is That Which Has No Part by Liz Waldner, published by University of Iowa Press. Copyright © 2000 by Liz Waldner. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Liz Waldner

Liz Waldner

Poet Liz Waldner won the 2000 James Laughlin Award

by this poet

poem
This evening, walking along the long field
My eye was drawn to a living shimmer in the sky:
Three aspens alone alive in a world of almost motionless 
Cottonwood and willow and Chinese elm trees.

The breeze that barely stirred the others
Sprang it free, spangling leaves like light on water,
An electric flutter,
poem
I saw that a star had broken its rope
in the stables of heaven—

This homeless one will find her home
in the foothills of a green century.

Who sleeps beside still waters, wakes.
The terrestrial hands of the heaven clock

comb out the comet's tangled mane
and twelve strands float free.

In the absence of light
poem
Cows on the spine of the hill like the spine of a book are some letters

Letters with legs; like an E and an L or an R that is squared like the box of the 
body of cows

Like the spine of a book, the legs and the bodies of cows spell out the name and 
maybe the head spells also the name of the book on whose