Liz Waldner

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Liz Waldner
[[File:Liz Waldner 08.23.09.jpg caption =|frameless|upright=1]]
BornCleveland, Ohio
Notable worksHoming Devices

Liz Waldner is an American poet.


Waldner was raised in small town Mississippi. At 28, she received a B.A. in philosophy and mathematics from St. John's College; she later studied at the Summer Language School in French Middlebury College, 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 from the Academy of American Poets.

Other honors include grants from the Washington State Professional Development Grant for Artists, Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship, the Boomerang Foundation, the Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Poetry and the Barbara Deming Money for Women Grant,[2] She received 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 a selection of 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.

She was an adjunct at Millsaps College in Jackson MS (1988–90) where she used the "Eyes On The Prize" PBS series as a text in her freshman comp course, inviting the college community to regard it as an all-college text; sponsored and served as panelist on the first Environmental Symposium; began with her students a campus recycling program; was advisor for the Rape Awareness office; co-led an NIH symposium on Suffering and Tragedy, gave a paper at the Philosophy Department's Colloquium, and attempted to live on $1000 a course.

Her other teaching positions included Lecturer at Tufts University, the Institute for Language and Thinking at Bard College, Cornell College, Hugo House (Seattle), and the College of Wooster.

Other Awards[edit]

Published works[edit]

Full-length poetry collections[edit]

  • Waldner, Liz (2016). Her Faithfulness. Miami University Press. ISBN 978-1-881163-58-9.
  • Waldner, Liz (2016). Little House, Big House (Now How I Am An American). Noemi Press. ISBN 978-1-934819-56-2.
  • Waldner, Liz (2009). Play. Lightful Press. ISBN 978-0-9822471-0-5.
  • Waldner, Liz (March 2, 2009). Trust. Cleveland State University. ISBN 978-1-880834-84-8.
  • Waldner, Liz (2004). Saving the Appearances. Ahsahta Press. ISBN 978-0-916272-79-1.
  • Waldner, Liz (2001). Self and Simulacra. Alice James Books. ISBN 978-1-882295-32-6.
  • Waldner, Liz (2002). Dark Would (the missing person). University of Georgia Press. ISBN 978-0-8203-2391-6.
  • Waldner, Liz (2002). Etym(bi)ology. Omnidawn Press. ISBN 978-1-890650-10-0.
  • Waldner, Liz (2000). A Point Is That Which Has No Part. University of Iowa Press. ISBN 978-0-87745-702-2.
  • Waldner, Liz (1997). Homing Devices. O Books. ISBN 978-1-882022-31-1.


Works published in periodicals[edit]



(Liz Waldner's Trust) foregrounds poetry as a thinking art with impressive intensity and historical scope, weaving through Platonic thought and biblical texts, marrying metaphysics, philosophy, and poetry in a way that is neither dogmatic nor obsequious, neither dismissive nor smug. This book takes philosophy seriously, but not to the exclusion of experience, emotion, or poetry. Waldner begins her seventh collection of poems with a short poem that strikes me as a uniquely apt and elegant example of the integration of poetry and philosophy. "Truth, Beauty, Tree," epigraphs itself with a passage from Plato's Symposium, which lays the foundation of thought for the poem: "... only when he discerns beauty itself through what makes it visible will he be quickened with true virtue". At issue in this poem is the Platonic notion of virtue (areté), which is determined by the optimal functioning of a thing (so, for example, we would say that a virtuous knife is one that cuts well).

— Christina Mengert, "Constant Critic"

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 [10]

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,[11]

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 [10]

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".[12]

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[13]

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[14]

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

... no 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[15]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Index of MacDowell Fellows". Archived from the original on 2009-05-26. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
  4. ^ "New American writing". 1993. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-01-07. Retrieved 2009-05-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Company, Proquest Information and Learning (1996). "Indiana review". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Liz Waldner :: Foundation for Contemporary Arts". Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-07-06. Retrieved 2009-05-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ a b "University of Iowa Press". 2000.
  11. ^ "The Commonline Journal, #011". 2009.
  12. ^ Arielle Greenberg. "Three Recent Books from Omnidawn". How2. Arizona State University. 1 (8).
  13. ^ "Poetry Notes". June 17, 2002.
  14. ^ Camille-Yvette Welsch (July–August 2002). ForeWord Magazine Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ ""How I Got From Dictionary to Here": Stephen Burt on Liz Waldner". Winter 2004–2005.

External links[edit]