Liz Waldner

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Liz Waldner (born Cleveland, Ohio) is an American poet.


Waldner was raised in rural Mississippi. She received a B.A. in philosophy and mathematics from St. John's College, studied at the French School at Middlebury, and received an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Waldner was a Regents Fellow in the Communication Department at the University of California, San Diego.[1]

She is the author of eight poetry collections, most recently Play (Lightful Press) and Trust (winner of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Open Competition). Her collection, Dark Would (the missing person) (University of Georgia Press), was the winner of the 2002 Contemporary Poetry Series; her collection, Self and Simulacra (2001), won the Beatrice Hawley Award; and her collection, A Point Is That Which Has No Part (2000), received the 1999 Iowa Poetry Prize and the 2000 James Laughlin Award. Other honors include grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Boomerang Foundation, the Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Poetry and the Barbara Deming Memorial Award,[2] and fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, the Djerassi Foundation, Centrum, Hedgebrook, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Villa Montalvo, Fundación Valparaiso and the MacDowell Colony.[3]

Waldner's poem "The Ballad of Barding Gaol", along with others, won the Poetry Society of America's Robert M. Winner Memorial Award, and her poetry has appeared in literary journals and magazines such as Ploughshares, Poetry, The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, The Journal, Parnassus West, The Cortland Review, Electronic Poetry Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, New American Writing,[4][5] Indiana Review,[6] Abacus,[7] and VOLT.


Published works[edit]

Full-length poetry collections[edit]


Works published in periodicals[edit]



From the title on, reading A Point Is That Which Has No Part is a singular and wonderfully upsetting experience ... the title must be followed by an implied but. A point is that which has no part, but this is a book of and about parts: sexual parts, dramatic parts, that which is parted, and that which is not parted or pared—excess. In bold contrast to the title, this book is brilliantly about not coming to the point. —American Poet [9]

Each lyrical sweep of Waldner's brush pushes us to a new level of meaning. As much can be said with subsequent reading, where the poems morph and unfold and another new intent appears. Impossible to 'get' upon the first reading, we are nevertheless entranced by the mesmerizing voice of the narrator. Intelligent, fantastical and a never-ending delight, Trust draws its reader in with cleverness and wit, and gives us fresh pause to remember what the truest art of poetry is: the ability to undo words, and then undo us with them. — Lisbeth Cheever-Gessaman,[10]

Waldner's [A Point Is That Which Has No Part ] makes the most use of language-at-the-edge. She concentrates on the line between conventional and non-conventional meaning, and spends much of her time poised right on it. She works with tremendous momentum, piling words up into a rush: ‘A panda bear from the county fair is like unto a spelling error’;‘Finis:fate. Ponder, wonder, wander. The river Lysander. Today’s a meander.’There’s a playfulness to the rush, and exuberance that seems always about to burst. —Cole Swensen, Boston Review [9]

Liz Waldner’s Etym(bi)ology is that rare thing: a work that surges with political fervor and also with joy, humor and wild innovation. Unafraid to take on the topical and render it universal, Waldner describes the book, whose poems date from the early 90s, as stemming from her “curiousity [sic] about the construction of the concept of selfhood in american culture, and the global effects of u.s. corporate-dominated media” along with her “abiding interest in the representation of women.”[11]

In Dark Would (as in Dante's) (the missing person) (as in "I came to myself.the right way lost") Liz Waldner deepens and intensifies the concerns of her previous three books: "the habit of invisibility," the healing "by being broken anew," the "visible body", the "anonymous blood" the "how much do I owe you." Longing: see me. Longing: don't. To each its other, and the self somewhere between, or dressed in drag, or "in the wrong skin" or androgynous, or water, or masked—or not. The s/he of it all. Waldner's leaps and shorthand, her fast and sometimes playful associations through rhyme and pun, her willingness to let language carry her into unexpected realms-all this creates a whirlwind that one remains caught in long after one has put the book down. Not a world, but a universe. Waldner's at her best yet—she's flying. —Jane Mead

Liz Waldner's irrepressibly odd lyric sequences leap from Steinian abstraction to sexual comedy in the space of a pun or the dash between parts of a sentence . . . Walder dramatizes her fascination with fragments, impenetrabilities and Renaissance science (e.g., Galileo) not just with fireworks of diction or verbal rambles, but with well-constructed couplets and sentences about the fractured psyche." —Publishers Weekly[12]

By reconstructing the language, line, syntax, and sense of those who came before, this poet creates a new sort of intensely personal poetics." —Camille-Yvette Welsch, ForeWord[13]

Liz Waldner is a poet of high wit, high intelligence, and great musical rigor--she may be our Postmodern Metaphysical poet plummeting deeper and deeper with each book into the questions of self, sexuality, and knowing. —Gillian Conoley

…[N]o contemporary poet shows more wild individuality, more gusto (“truth of character…in the highest degree in which the subject is capable”—Hazlitt) than Liz Waldner. She has become one of the most convincing and most inspiring of our poets.” —Stephen Burt, Slope[14]


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