Selected Poems

Keith Waldrop. Omnidawn (UPNE, dist.), $19.95 trade paper (312p) ISBN 978-1-63243-020-5
Waldrop, winner of the 2009 National Book Award for Transcendental Studies, has long been an important and celebrated figure, both as a poet and translator, in contemporary American avant-garde poetics. This retrospective volume covers a career that spans nearly a half century, running from 1968’s A Windmill Near Calvary to 2013’s The Not Forever. Whether it’s his relatively straightforward early poems (“Money/ is pure spirit. It’s what you convert/ things into so as to carry their/ value without their weight”) or his more multifaceted later work (“as I was/ reading the/ book closed like an eyelid// universe immersed/ in sleep// refined to/ amethyst”), Waldrop’s poetry is grounded against the constantly shifting geometries of an oblique world by quiet traces of memory, ghosts, and a sensitive consciousness. Deploying a great range of formal devices and rhetorical tactics that reflect his work as a translator, teacher, and publisher, Waldrop (who, with his wife, Rosemarie Waldrop, edits Burning Deck books) has established his own brand of semitranscendental ecologically and psychologically astute poetics while displaying a perspective, sense of humor, phrasing, persona, and array of mannerisms that are distinctly American. “I love these wooden houses that/ the rich built, and we live in,” he writes in “Diminished Galleries.” This collection is an excellent introduction to an essential American poet—the “words lost/ in the music” that will leave readers wanting more. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/21/2016
Release date: 04/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
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