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Rosmarie Waldrop

Writer, Translator, Small Press Publisher
Born Kitzingen/Main, Germany, 1935
Lives in Providence, RI

I would like to thank FCPA for the year of free time. The grant enabled me to complete a small book of poems… I finished translating… a book of poems by the French poet Jacques Roubaud... I am now working on a sequence of prose poems... I am immensely grateful to the Foundation for its support.

Rosmarie Waldrop, December 18, 2004

Biography

Rosmarie Waldrop is a poet, translator, editor, and publisher. Her work is experimental, incorporating philosophical statements and personal narrative. She was heavily influenced by avant-garde writers she met in Paris in 1970, including Edmond Jabès. She has become the leading English translator of his work.

Her books of poetry include Lawn of Excluded Middle (1993), A Key Into the Language of America (1994), Split Infinitives (1998), Blindsight (1998), Reluctant Gravities (1999), and Love Like Pronouns (2003). Her novels The Hanky of Pippin's Daughter (1986) and A Form/of Taking/It All (1990) have been reprinted by Northwestern University Press. Her work has appeared in anthologies such as Postmodern American Poetry (1994), From the Other Side of the Century: New American Poetry 1960-90 (1994), Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women (1998), and Poems for the Millennium, vol. II, (1998). Waldrop's memoir, Lavish Absence: Recalling and Rereading Edmond Jabès, came out from Wesleyan University Press in 2002.

Waldrop's 2003 Grants to Artists award supported Splitting Image (2005), a book of poetry. Since her 2003 FCPA grant, Waldrop has released the trilogy Curves to the Apple (The Reproduction of Profiles (2006), and Driven to Abstraction (2010); and her work has been featured in Postmodernism: An Anthology of Contemporary Innovative Poetries (2008), American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry (2009), and I'll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women (2012). Translations of her work have been published in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Serbia, Spain, and Sweden. She has also translated, from the French, Jacques Roubaud and Emmanuel Hocquard; and from the German, Friederike Mayröcker, Elke Erb, Ernst Jandl, Oskar Pastior, Ulf Stolterfoht, among others others.

Since her 2003 FCPA grant, Waldrop was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and she was honored with the Pen Award for Poetry in Translation (2008) for Lingos I-XI by Ulf Stolterfoht. Prior to her 2003 Grants to Artists award, Waldrop had received a Howard Foundation fellowship (1974-1975), a Columbia Translation Center Award (1978), a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1980), a Rhode Island Governor's Award (1988), a Fund for Poetry Award (1990), a Harold Morton Landon Translation Award for her translation of Jabès's The Book of Margins (1994), the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award (1999-2002). Waldrop was a DAAD Berlin Artist-in-Residence (1993) and in 2000, she was named Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government.

Waldrop earned her Ph.D. from University of Michigan in 1966. She has taught at Wesleyan University, Tufts University, and Brown University. Waldrop co-edits Burning Deck Press with Keith Waldrop.

Artist Statement

The linguistic displacement from German to English has not only made me into a translator, but gave me a sense of writing as exploration of what happens between. Between words, sentences, people, cultures.

I now write mostly prose poems. The prose paragraph has the excitement and terror of the open, of uncharted territory. It seems the kind of space where form can prove “a center around which, not a box within which." (Pound)

But I love the way verse refuses to fill up all of the available space of the page, so that each line acknowledges what is not. I want to preserve this sense of a void and so must cultivate cuts, discontinuities, cracks, hitches, snags, leaps, shifts of reference, and emptiness inside the semantic dimension and inside the sentence. “Gap gardening," I have called it.

My main “gardening tool" is collage. The “splice of life" rather than the realistic “slice." Connection and interaction of disparate elements, with the breaks showing. Multiple “I"s and multiple perspectives juxtaposed to jolt the fixed relations in the mind.

2014