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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.

Witness

Liz Waldner
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 and gravity,
slowly as dust, or the continents' drift,

sinuous, they twine a text,
one letter to an eon:

I am the dawn horse.
Ride me.

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
Ink will come.  Lamp lung
breathes light at the edge
of an idea.  The edge
an idea, also the door

of the room 
that silence opens.

The pen sighs, a lens
for the shut-in light.
Breathe me, light.
Have the idea to have me.
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
The tomato plant is like a seven-story city hewn from the rock of the desert. 
It weeps.

It volunteered. I hate tomatoes and the way the plant smells
but it is alive so I let it be.

And so it towers haggard over other better December vegetables,
its top blacked by the first frost

despite my bed sheet.
Either