poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

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.

Es/chew

Liz Waldner
The better to hear
you with, my dear.

Come right
in, prayer.

Let those who have ears to hear, hear.
(Ab. Sourd, bien sûr.)

Of course, of course.
Amo, amas:

He listens.
She glistens.

Dear god, don't
let me use.

Shadows wave. Wane.
Weather, and in that vein,

a work of translation:
shoot up, get high.

Plough the clouds.
Sky furrows, the brow

of night, an evil
thought, a star

especially bright:
anger, just that.

Scat, track, shit, horse
and what'd he just throw in our yard?

Of night, a needle.
Erose, the petal

of the rosary to ring
god's words around.

Erose, those words
in the mouth of night.

where no teeth
are.

Copyright © 2004 by Liz Waldner. Reprinted from Saving the Appearances, published by Ahsahta Press, 2004.

Copyright © 2004 by Liz Waldner. Reprinted from Saving the Appearances, published by Ahsahta Press, 2004.

Liz Waldner

Liz Waldner

Poet Liz Waldner won the 2000 James Laughlin Award.

by this poet

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
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
If I were in a book it would be the book
in which some lesser angel bemoans
the state of my soul

and is comforted for it
and is corrected for it

by some greater angel who knows
as the reader knows that it is not my soul
that suffers the indignities of ignobility: 
the inability to curb the petty smallness
of