Driven to Abstraction
Driven to Abstraction
New Directions Publishing Corporation, Paperback, 9780811218795, 133pp.
Publication Date: November 30, 2010
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Even in a state of geometrical grace we cannot see time as it is, only as it passes. So the river shows us while softly disfiguring our waterlogged bodies on the way to vast projects of war. Rosmarie Waldrop Driven to Abstraction is Rosmarie Waldrop's sixth collection of poetry with New Directions. The first of its two sections, Sway-Backed Powerlines, consists of five sequences of prose poems whose subject matter ranges from voyages of discovery and the second Iraq war to geometry, memory, and the music of John Cage. Part two, the title sequence, investigates the tendency to abstraction in our lives which, in the West, began with the Renaissance introduction of zero into arithmetic, the vanishing point into perspective, and imaginary money in economics. Driven by the tension between abstraction and the concrete, and written in the shadow of ongoing wars, these poems are among Waldrop's most engaging and thrilling works to date, the writing of a master poet at the height of her creative powers.
About the Author
Rosmarie Waldrop was born in Kitzingen am Main, Germany, on August 24, 1935. At the age of ten, she spent half a year acting with a traveling theater. She has studied at Wuerzburg, Freiburg, Aix-Marseille and Michigan Universities, earning her Ph.D. in 1966. She has lived in the United States since 1958. Waldrop began publishing her poetry in English in the late 1960s and since 1968 has been co-editor and publisher of Burning Deck Press with her husband, the poet and translator Keith Waldrop. The pair met in 1954 while he was stationed in Kitzingen after the Second World War. She is now the author of more than three dozen books of poetry, fiction, and criticism, most recently her trilogy Curves to the Apple: The Reproduction of Profiles, Lawn of Excluded Middle, Reluctant Gravities (New Directions, 2006), and a collection of essays, Dissonance (University of Alabama Press, 2005). Her other poetry titles include Splitting Image (2006), Blindsight (2004), Love, Like Pronouns (2003), Well Well Reality (1998, with Keith Waldrop), Reluctant Gravities (1999), Split Infinites (1998), Another Language: Selected Poems (1997), A Key Into the Language of America (1994), Lawn of the Excluded Middle (1993), Peculiar Motions (1990), Shorter American Memory (1988), The Reproduction of Profiles (1987), Streets Enough to Welcome Snow (1986), Differences for Four Hands (1984), Nothing Has Changed (1981), When They Have Senses (1980), The Road Is Everywhere or Stop This Body (1978), and The Aggressive Ways of the Casual Stranger (1972). In the early 1970s, she spent a year in Paris, where she met several leading avant garde French poets, including Claude Royet-Journoud, Anne-Marie Albiach, and Edmond Jabes. These writers not only influenced Waldrop's work greatly, but worked with her as she became one of the main translators of their work into English, with Burning Deck acting as a major vehicle in introducing their work to an English-language readership. She has since translated more than twenty books, including works by Paul Celan, Elke Erb, Joseph Guglielmi, Emmanuel Hocquard, Friederike Mayroecker, Jacques Roubaud, and Alain Veinstein. She received the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award for her 1993 rendering of The Book of Margins by Edmond Jabes. About her work, the poet Diane Wakoski has said, "Rosmarie Waldrop writes the poetry of everyday life and asks her reader to look beyond it, not by dazzling you with spectacular images or fancy metaphors but by simply quietly invoking you to look, listen, reflect." Waldrop's honors include the Rhode Island Governor's Arts Award, the PEN/Book-of-the-Month-Club Citation for Translation, a Translation Center Award, and Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in Poetry and Translation. She has taught at Wesleyan University and, as occasional visitor, at Tufts and Brown. She currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island.