Late summer Celansalon: WALDROPS & Estes-Freedman-Leidner-Toder + Cistulli + Feld

WaldropsThe Waldrops are coming! On Wednesday, September 2 at 8 p.m. Schoen Books will host a special evening with Rosmarie and Keith Waldrop, poets (with some two score books between them), publishers and printers (at Providence’s legendary Press, Burning Deck), translators extraordinaire (Baudelaire, Celan, Jabes, etc.), Chevalier(s) des Arts et des Lettres, novelists (Rosmarie), collagists (Keith), essayists, gentle godparents of the American avante garde. For more, see below.

But first, Sunday, August 23 at 8 p.m. Ben Estes and Emily Toder will each read poems, to celebrate the post- and pre- release of their respective chapbooks: Lamp like l’map (Factory Hollow Press, Spring 2009) and Brushes With (Tarpaulin Sky, Fall 2009). Whereas Mark Leidner will stand up and tell jokes, Lewis Freedman will sit down and tell magic. *UPDATE* Carson Cistulli (sojourning from Portland) will select from these aphorisms and Ari Feld (departing for Barcelona) will read poems like this one in the new NOÖ. Also on hand, printed by Nor By Press: special invitations to the below and a new broadside, Jono Tosch’s My Own Chair.

There will be seltzer and snacks before, during and after. Arrive early to browse and graze.

What can Wikipedia tell us about the Waldrops? Well, Keith Waldrop, born Emporia, Kansas, 1932, his father Arthur Waldrop, worker for the Santa Fe railroad, his mother Opal née Mohler, in later life piano teacher and practical nurse. After grade school and junior high in Kansas, went to high school at a fundamentalist (holiness) school in South Carolina. Pre-med program at Kansas State Teachers College interrupted by draft in 1953. Sent as army engineer (in water purification) to Germany. {Meanwhile} Rosemarie Sebald was born in Kitzingen am Main on August 24, 1935. Towards the end of the Second World War, she joined a travelling theatre, but returned to school after in early 1946. At school, she studied piano and flute and played in a youth orchestra.

At Christmas 1954, the orchestra gave a concert for American soldiers stationed at Kitzingen. Afterwards, one of the audience, Keith Waldrop invited members of the orchestra to listen to his records. He and Rosmarie became friendly and worked together over the next few months, translating German poetry into English. That same year, she entered the University of Würzburg, where she studied literature, art history and musicology. In 1955, she transferred to the University of Freiburg, where she discovered the writings of Robert Musil and participated in a protest against a lecture given by Heidegger. She then moved to the University of Aix-Marseille, where Keith spent 1956-7 on his GI Bill. At the end of the year, he returned to the University of Michigan. In 1958, he won a Major Hopwood Prize. He sent most of the money to Rosmarie to pay for her passage to the United States.

The couple married, and…in 1961, the Waldrops bought a secondhand printing press and started Burning Deck Magazine. This was the beginning of Burning Deck, which was to become one of the most influential small press publishers of innovative poetry in the United States.

But what wouldn’t the Waldrops tell us about the Waldrops? Well, the Waldrops have won too many prizes to recount, most recently Rosmarie’s 2008 Pen Poetry Prize for Translation for Ulf Stolterfoht’s Lingos I-IX (Burning Deck). In 2006, New Directions compiled three prize-winning books of poetry, including her own gravities (The Reproduction of Profiles, Lawn of Excluded Middle, and Reluctant Gravities) as Curves to the Apple, which along with Keith’s recently gathered Transcendental Poems (University of California Press) is surely one of the great poetic trilogies of any age. 2009 also saw Keith’s first book of collages (with poems), Several Gravities (Siglio) and a second translation of Baudelaire, Paris Spleen (Wesleyan University Press, which also recently issued 2006’s acclaimed Flowers of Evil in paperback.)

*A wide range of past and future Waldropiana will be for sale / on display and commemorative ephemera from Nor By Press may be present. Arrive early to browse and reserve a seat.*

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