March 11, 2022

Keith Waldrop (USA) 1932-2023

Keith Waldrop (USA)
Born in Emporia, Kansas on December 11, 1932, Keith Waldrop entered the Kansas State Teachers College as a pre-med student, studies were interrupted by his being drafted in 1953. Ultimately, he received his B.A. from Kansas State Teachers College in 1955, his M.A. in 1958, and a Ph.D., in comparative literature from the University of Michigan in 1964. Waldrop has taught at Wayne State University, Wesleyan University, and from 1968-2001, at Brown University, where he is now Brooke Russell Astor Professor, emeritus of the Humanities.

      With his wife, Rosmarie Waldrop, Keith founded Burning Deck press, which began publishing a wide range of contemporary American and European writers. His first chapbook of poetry, Keith Tank Line, appeared in 1966, followed by numerous books of poetry, chapbooks, collaborations, and books of translation. Among his dozens of poetry books are The Windmill Near Calvary (1968), The Garden of Effort (1975), Windfall Losses (1977), The Space of Half an Hour (1983), A Ceremony of Somewhere Else (1984), Hegel’s Family: serious variations (1989), Shipwreck in Haven: transcendental studies (1991), The Silhouette of the Bridge (1997), The House Seen from Nowhere (2002), and Songs from the Decline of the West (2003). In 2009 Waldrop received the National Book Award in Poetry for Transcendental Studies (University of California Press).
     Often using collage techniques in his writing, Waldrop notes:

                 Collage is for me 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 Whitehead notes,common
                 to aesthetics and logic.

     Among the many poets he has translated into English are Claude Royet-Journoud, Edmond Jabès, Anne-Marie Albiach, André Breton, Xue Di, Pierre Reverdy, Jean Grosjean, and Charles Baudelaire.
     Waldrop has received two NEA translation fellowship, stipends from the Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Fellowship, a DAAD Berlin Artists Program fellowship, the Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts, and a grant from the Fund for Poetry. The French government awarded him a “Chevalier des arts et des lettres.”
     Waldrop also has published a biographical fiction, Light While There Is Light: An American History (Sun & Moon Press, 1993).


Keith Tank Line (Durham, Connecticut: Burning Deck, 1966); A Windmill Near Calvary (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1968); Change of Address (with Rosmarie Waldrop) (Providence, Rhode Island: Burning Deck, 1968); To the Sincere Reader (art by Nelson Howe) (New York: George Wittenborn & Company, 1969); The Garden of Effort (Providence: Burning Deck, 1970); My Antichrist and Other Foundlings (Providence: Burning Deck, 1970); Letters (with Rosmarie Waldrop) (Providence: Burning Deck 1970); A Notebook for December (Providence: Burning Deck, 1971); Alice ffoster-Fallis (an outline) (with Rosmarie Waldrop, 1972); Indifference Point (Providence: Limestone Press, 1973); Words Worth Less (with Rosmarie Waldrop) (Providence: Burning Deck, 1973); Until Volume One (with Rosmarie Waldrop) (Providence: Burning Deck, 1973); Human Nature Can Be Changed (Providence: Diana’s Bi-Monthly, 1975); Poem from Memory (art by Linda Lutes) (Providence: Treacle Press, 1975); Three Logical Poems (Providence: Turkey Press, 1975); Since Volume One (with Rosmarie Waldrop) (Providence: 1975); Either Late or Sensitive (Malakoff: Orange Export, 1975); Three Tenors, One Vehicle (with James Camp and X. J. Kennedy) (Columbia, Missouri: Open Places, 1975); Windfall Losses (Woods Hole, Massachusetts: Pourboire Press, 1977); Intervals (Windsor, Vermont: Awede, 1981); The Quest for Mt. Misery and Other Studies (Isla Vista, California: Turkey Press, 1983); The Ruins of Providence (Providence: Copper Beech, 1983); A Ceremony Somewhere Else (Windsor, Vermont: Awede, 1984); Water Marks (Toronto: Underwhich Editions, 1987); Hegel’s Family: Serious Variations (Barrytown, New York: Station Hill Press, 1989); The Opposite of Letting the Mind Wander: Selected Poems and a Few Songs (Providence: Lost Roads Press, 1990); The Balustrade (Buffalo: Leave Press, 1991); Shipwreck in Haven: Transcendental Studies (Windsor, Vermont: Awede, 1991); Light Travels (with Rosmarie Waldrop) (Providence: Burning Deck, 1992); Potential Random (Providence: Paradigm Press, 1992, reprinted 1998); The Locality Principle (Penngrove, California: Avec Books, 1995); The Silhouette of the Bridge (Penngrove, California: Avec Books, 1997); Analogies of Escape (Providence: Burning Deck, 1997); The Resemblance Begins (Saratoga, California: Instress, 1997); Stone Angels (Saratoga, California: Instress, 1997); Well Well Reality (Sausalito, California: Post-Apollo Press, 1998); Spit-Curls (Sausalito, California: Duration Press, 1999); Two-Part Invention (New York: Poetry New York, 1999); The Eighth Day (Saratoga, California: Instress, 1999); Faint Optimism (Bray County Wicklow, Ireland: Wild Honey Press, 1999); Haunt (Saratoga, California: 2000); Semiramis If I Remember (Penngrove, California: Avec Books, 2001); The House Seen from Nowhere (Brooklyn: Litmus Press, 2002); Songs from the Declilne of the West (Center Book in No, issue 1, 2003); The Real Subject: Queries and Conjectures of Jacob Delafon, with Sample Poems (Richmond, California: Omnidawn, 2004); Six Poems from Always in Arises (Ellsworth, Maine: Backwoods Broadsides Chaplets Series 93, 2005); Flat with No Key (with Rosmarie Waldrop) (Providence: Burning Deck, 2008); Transcendental Studies (Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 2009); Several Gravities: Collages and Poems (Los Angeles: Siglio Press, 2009); Other Than Is (San Francisco: Sardines Press, 2011)


               they knew that they were naked

between tones (de-
caying) there is
space, and yet

as it were, a

bodies enter a
blow-pipe flame


bridge of light (star-
shower, swing
of the earth)

described about a


consider a body
                                                 disturbed in this
motion, consider
the fact of


the rest of the earth


declaration stone
by stone, tree by
unfamiliar tree

dimension become

distinct dark
markings:  round
head, faint tail

                                                 chill (individual

the flash, the

marshes, threatening

ill-seen when most

I go to the
masquerade as Is

rivers and deeps engulfing

in the long perspective of


lingering, left
when body
eludes, mirrors

taller, windows broader

along the path



never quiet






after some
while, to
persuade himself
as the snows

all things, he
think, by some
mortal link

fine particles, bright
sound in
air, loud surface
of sea, still
groans from the

all this he hears
and it endears
to him the silence of the spheres

raises his
fist, lets
go, wrist
over face

light bent just
so, into figures of
common sight

white cloud and
thunder, under
rowdy skies, day
swallowed up



rise (all these he sees
no farther up than the leaves
of trees)

questions, failures
doubts and opinions
clashes, caresses, dr
bones, dry
bones talking on

filled with
rubbish and roly-
polies, Jesus Christ beside
Pompey in the Holy-

no Lord in this
devil of a
rain, hailstones hacking
valleys out of plain

a thousand years, sadder
and sadder, where
mounts a
river, sky
well enough

edges inter-
faced, the old trite

memento mori

straining to
follow dis-
appearing light
his eyes ablaze with

For a selection of other of his poems, go here:



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