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About this poet

Born in Kansas, Keith Waldrop served in the United States military and in 1954, he met his wife, the poet and translator Rosmarie Waldrop while stationed in Kitzingen, Germany. He studied at Aix-Marseille and Michigan Universities, earning a PhD in comparative literature in 1964. His first book of poetry, A Windmill Near Calvary (University of Michigan, 1968), was nominated for a National Book Award.

He is the author of numerous collections of poetry, most recently Several Gravities (Siglio, 2009), a collection of collages; Transcendental Studies (University of California Press, 2009), a trilogy of collage poems which won the National Book Award for Poetry; and a translation of Charles Baudelaire's Paris Spleen (Wesleyan, 2009). His other work includes The Real Subject: Queries and Conjectures of Jacob Delafon: With Sample Poems (Omnidawn, 2004). His other collections of poetry include The House Seen from Nowhere (2003), Haunt (2000), Well Well Reality (1998, with Rosmarie Waldrop), and the trilogy The Locality Principle (1995), The Silhouette of the Bridge, which won the Americas Award for Poetry (1997), and Semiramis, If I Remember (2001).

He has translated several contemporary French poets, such as Anne-Marie Albiach, Claude Royet-Journoud, Dominique Fourcade, Jean Grosjean, and Paol Keineg. In 2006, he completed a translation of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal (Wesleyen University Press).

According to Waldrop, collage is a major mode of composition for him. He explains the process as: "a way to explore, not necessarily the thing I am tearing up, but the thing I am contriving to build out of torn pieces. To the extent that there is a purpose to what I do, its end is the 'enjoyment of a composition'—a concern, as A. N. Whitehead notes, common to aesthetics and logic."

About his work, the poet Michael Palmer has said, "As we would expect from Keith Waldrop, it is suffused with a particular humanity and an appreciation for the absurd, even the grotesque, in daily life. The rhythmic apposition of prose and poetry brings to mind the freedom, alertness and quality of distillation in Basho's classic travel sketches. With his quietly precise sense of modulation and his unerring gaze, Waldrop remains one of the vital and requisite, semi-secret presences in American letters."

Waldrop has received an award from the Fund for Poetry, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Berlin Artists Program of the DAAD. In 2000, he received a Medal from the French government with rank of Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters, for lifetime contribution to French literature.

He currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where he teaches at Brown University, and has served as co-editor of Burning Deck Press, with his wife Rosmarie Waldrop since 1968.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

A Windmill Near Calvary (University of Michigan, 1968)
The Garden of Effort (Burning Deck, 1975)
Windfall Losses (Pourboire Press, 1977)
The Space of Half an Hour (Burning Deck, 1983)
The Ruins of Providence (Copper Beech, 1983)
A Ceremony Somewhere Else (Awede, 1984)
Hegel's Family (Station Hill, 1989)
The Opposite of Letting the Mind Wander (Lost Roads, 1990)
Potential Random (Paradigm Press, 1992)
The Locality Principle (Avec Books, 1995)
The Silhouette of the Bridge (1997)
Analogies of Escape (Burning Deck, 1997)
Well Well Reality (Omnidawn, 1998, with Rosmarie Waldrop)
Haunt (2000)
Semiramis, If I Remember (Avec, 2001)
The House Seen from Nowhere (Litmus, 2002)
The Real Subject: Queries and Conjectures of Jacob Delafon, with Sample Poems (Omnidawn, 2004)
Several Gravities (Siglio, 2009)
Transcendental Studies (University of California Press, 2009)

Fiction

Light While There Is Light (Sun and Moon, 1993)

The Luxury of Hesitation [excerpt from The Proof from Motion]

Keith Waldrop
things 
forgotten
I could


burn in hell forever


set the glass
down, our
emotion's moment


eyes vs sunlight


how removed
here, from
here


towards the unfamiliar and


frankincense forests
against the discerning light


everybody
sudden


frightful indeed, the sound of
traffic and
no appetite


the crowd


I would like to be
beautiful when
written



"Horse and Rider" by Keith Waldrop   |   Click to enlarge

From Several Gravities by Keith Waldrop. Copyright © 2009 by Keith Waldrop. Used by permission of Siglio Press. All rights reserved.

From Several Gravities by Keith Waldrop. Copyright © 2009 by Keith Waldrop. Used by permission of Siglio Press. All rights reserved.

Keith Waldrop

Keith Waldrop

Keith Waldrop is the author of many works of original poetry and translation of contemporary French poets.

by this poet

poem
Do not alarm yourself, I
could not rest content with 
moral lectures and continual 
repetition

like the solar system, I
could not hold my head up, made 
endlessly to 
glow

destined for grand ceremonies, I
was much affected by finding myself so
thin and so worn
down

(we use theory
to mean it is possible to
poem
        1


        common time I follow you un-          
        kept secret on 
        a basic undersound
 






        2


        common time I follow you un-
        kept secret on 
        a basic undersound


        this is the first part of the rhyme
        allow for sequences of overheard
poem
My first glance takes in 
an army, tens of thousands ready 
armed. As a mirror reflects 
indistinctly and with a feeble 
light, so it cracks and 
soon fades. From its surface a clear 
image of the beholder. 
In these paintings: harbors, promontories, 
shores, rivers, fountains, 
fanes, groves, mountains, flocks,