Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop and 50 years of Burning Deck Press 2011
To celebrate 50 years of Burning Deck Press
Guest of Honor : Keith Waldrop and Rosmarie Waldrop
Thanksgiving 2011| A Menu Poem
Hurray! It’s Thanksgiving once again, another November, another year gone by, and another time to feast with dear friends. This is the tenth Thanksgiving Menu-Poem and we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Burning Deck Press by toasting the wonderful Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop. The contributions of all three entities: Burning Deck Press, Rosmarie Waldrop and Keith Waldrop on the world of poetry are many and too numerous to mention here but provided in the next section is a full biography with works, awards and links to many forums of discussions on their work. There is also a nice exhibition on Burning Deck Press at the John Hay library, even if it is now ten years old. So make like an egg and beat it on over there and make a day of it! Hurray!
Burning Deck was set up 50 years ago as a home for experimental but it was not rooted in the academic, or a thing for scholars, but rather, something else. A balance of ideas was formed and a place for books that holds the traditional along side the highly experimental. A place for ideas to be worked out in poem and prose and considers itself free to open up the fragilities of being human in our errors and our successes. In the fifty years of Burning Deck, we find deep reality in a body of works that are special, insightful and purposeful. I have done my best to emulate what I imagine they did here at BlazeVOX. It is the chilled orange colorings of November that brings out the gratitude one can feel and share at a gathering of friends and family. It is a time of comforting and inward thankfulness that can be conveyed, together, among friends over a Thanksgiving table.
It was this kind of welcoming I received in Providence earlier this year at the tribute reading held for Michael Gizzi. Michael was a kind friend and supporter. His passing was a horrible moment and his tribute would be a welcome moment. It was a joyful and somber thing to spend a moment with his friends, colleagues and family. The reading was a kind, warm gathering on a very cold night. There were poems and music that managed to overcome those murky feelings that are summoned up at the thought of your missing friend. An it was in this spirit we moved, like penguins in the frozen Providence night to the warmth of the Waldrop’s home, a house that appears to be made up entirely of books. It was wonderful, like a visit to the home one always imagines the living arrangements of the lifelong literati might look like. A beautiful welcoming sense of the possible seems to reside with them. In their kind manner and indefinable, ageless sense of cool one cannot help but think how grand is life!
This was not the first time I had envisioned myself living a modern romantic life as the Waldrop’s do. I had met both Keith and Rosmarie before in Buffalo. I was one of those nameless faces that swerve past them with wide-eyed gleams in awe of what they have accomplish as individuals, as artists, as poets, as translators and as publishers. Keith Waldrop was born in Kansas; and as he so politely puts it, he doesn’t want to die in Kansas. He has been away for over fifty years and so we will not mention it any further. He now lives in Providence, an aptly named place for beloved poets to live. For me, the poems of Keith Waldrop may be the most beautiful expressions of humanity I have read that was created in my lifetime. In the experimental it is often hard to find oneself overwhelmed with emotion, to well up over some passing phrasing, that if expressed in another form might not provoke a similar response. Take Pound for example, I find myself enthralled by his words and essays, but never feel moved to tears. But Keith’s work manages to find that spark of humanity in his gathering and shaping. Poems that are collages of other works, words, used as building blocks and shaped, not cut and paste projects; Keith carves out poetry in all of its ponderous beauty from the word that make up our collective memory. What are we but an amalgam the books we have read? I think a lot of the charm in his work comes from the smooth timber of his spoken voice. He speaks in warm tones that can deliver the most wonderful aspects of life, but can also pinpoint a chill right in the center of your being with a simple inflection.
I would like to think we have might have worked together in an imaginary ‘will of the cutting edge,’ however I may be mistaken. No one will correct me, so I will keep this memory, false or otherwise, tightly held to my heart. This meal is not a traditional American Thanksgiving fare, but rather it is set in German cuisine, specifically dishes from the region where Rosmarie Waldrop was born, Kitzingen am Main. This is also where Keith and Rosmarie met, in Kitzingen, at her piano recital on Christmas 1954. There is a lovely story about the founding of Kitzingen am Main, which Rosmarie Waldrop uses in her work of fiction titled The Hanky Of Pippin's Daughter (Station Hill Press of Barrytown.) Kitzingen was founded when the Countess of Schwanberg, the daughter of Pippen the Short lost her jeweled scarf while standing on the ramparts of her castle. The castle was located high above the fertile section of the Main River Valley where Kitzingen now lies. The Countess promised to build a cloister on the spot where the scarf was found. When a shepherd named Kitz found the scarf, she kept her word and built a cloister that she called Kitzingen.
Like the unnamed creator of Kitzingen, Rosmarie Waldrop is also a transcendent creator. We as poets and writers cannot understand ourselves with any special insight. However, the impenetrable walls of understanding that one cannot pass through seem strangely close within her work. With her use of the question within a poem, Rosmarie Waldrop can bring in an element that is not readily there. As Claude Levi Strauss points out, “the scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, she is one who asks the right questions.” Her poems ask questions and the reader is left with their own answers. And that response provokes a great many feelings within the reader or listener. A movement or transience or transformation of our frailties speak to our half-animal, half-mindful, gendered self. Things that compliment and enrich a knowing of ones own inner being. We are left asking what is beyond our own body.
And since we are moving beyond our own being for this meal, our dinner is to be held in Kitzingen, specifically at the crooked tower, the city's main landmark. The tower is built during the 13th century has a distinctive crooked roof, that unfortunately leans. Another town story claims that the tower was built during a drought season, and workers used wine instead of water to make the mortar. This quick-fix solution would not allow the mortar to set properly and thus causing the top of the tower to lean. And if we can be anywhere in our imagination to hold this feast, why not here, in a leaning crooked tower for Burning Deck So Hurray!
It has been my very great pleasure to create this menu poem and I hope you enjoy!
Keith Waldrop is author of numerous collections of poetry and is the translator of The Selected Poems of Edmond Jabes, as well as works by Claude Royet-Journoud, Anne-Marie Albiach and Jean Grosjean. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and DAAD (Berlin). His titles include HEGEL'S FAMILY, THE OPPOSITE OF LETTING THE MIND WANDER: SELECTED POEMS AND A FEW SONGS, SHIPWRECK IN HAVEN: TRANSCENDENTAL STUDIES, The Balustrade, Light While There is Light, THE LOCALITY PRINCIPLE, ANALOGIES OF ESCAPE and HAUNT. He has twice been nominated for the National Book Award: for his first book of poetry, A Windmill Near Calvary (University of Michigan, 1968); and his most recent, Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy (University of California Press, 2009), which won. With his wife Rosmarie Waldrop he co-edits Burning Deck Press. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and teaches at Brown University.
Keith Waldrop- Poets.org - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More
Keith Waldrop - The National Book Foundation
Keith Waldrop : The Poetry Foundation
Keith Waldrop : Pennsound audio recordings of Keith Reading his work
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.
Rosmarie Waldrop- Poets.org - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More
Rosmarie Waldrop : The Poetry Foundation
Rosmarie and Keith Waldrop:
Kelly Writers House Reading and New Close Listening Programs
Kelly Writers House Reading and New Close Listening Programs
Marjorie Perloff » Rosmarie Waldrop's Auto-Graphs
Burning Deck Press
71 Elmgrove Ave. Providence, RI 02906
The John Hay Library Archive of Burning Deck Press
Burning Deck is the small press operated by Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop. Since 1961 it has published limited editions of the works of contemporary poets and fiction writers. The archive of Burning Deck consists of financial records, correspondence with contributors, galleys, typescripts, and art work representing forty years of literary publication. The Library also holds a complete collection of Burning Deck imprints, mostly in the Harris Collection.
Format(s): Books, Serials, Pamphlets, Graphics, Letters, Documents
Access to the collection:
Online Catalog (JOSIAH):
Individual records for most printed materials available on JOSIAH
Other Online Access:
Exhibit: 40 Years of Burning Deck Press
Forty Years of Burning Deck Press 1961 - 2001
an exhibit of materials from the Burning Deck Archive
and the Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays
Brown University Library