These parallel reports from two writers long together (and occasionally collaborating) show characteristic differences, both of background and of style. Rosmarie meditates on early years in Germany during World War II and the way her world was changed, first by a bombing raid, then by learning about the Nazi regime, and by emigration to the U.S. Keith wanders from a mid-Western childhood, through a Southern fundamentalist high school and college as a pre-med student, to encounters in Michigan, New England and Europe.
Originally commissioned by Gale Research for their Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series.
Keith Waldrop’s recent books of poetry include Haunt (Instance Press) and the trilogy:The Locality Principle, The Silhouette of the Bridge (America Award, 1997) and Semiramis If I Remember (Avec Press). His novel, Light While There Is Light, was published by Sun & Moon. He has translated a number of contemporary French poets and teaches at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
Rosmarie Waldrop’s recent books are Reluctant Gravities (New Directions), Split Infinites (Singing Horse), and Another Language: Selected Poems (Talisman House). Northwestern UP has reprinted her two novels, The Hanky of Pippin’s Daughter and A Form/of Taking/It All, in one paperback. Her memoir, Lavish Absence: Recalling and Rereading Edmond Jabès, is forthcoming from Wesleyan University Press in fall 2002.
Together, they have published Well Well Reality (Post-Apollo Press) and co-edit Burning Deck Press.
“…as the allusion to Magritte so clearly implies, any autobiography is, perforce, a representation…. Each autobiography is presented in a frank, straight-forward style, but is far from conventional…. They are written very creatively, but are in no way self-consciously coy or over-wrought. They are full of warmth, wit, and philosophy. The facts of their lives are secondary, skeletal: what matters is the flesh, the muscle, the sensations and perceptions of their lives.”
—John Olson, Bird Dog
“[in Keith Waldrop’s books or Rosmarie’s] one finds works steeped in collage, fragmented inattention, historical inquiry, and formal variation. One finds, in short, two prime movers of the American poetic avant-garde. The challenge of that avant-garde, with its mix of amibtion, art, and pretension, may send readers elsewhere for their simple memoir kicks. But in this double autobiography, the Waldrops (not their writing) are the heroes, and the heros seem nice enough folks….
What is remarkable are the stories: a unique cultural history of the American avant-garde, a double kunstlerroman, scattered shots of the post-war milieu…. It is a slight, charming volume that will appeal to those with an interest in people and poetry. It is also easy to read.”
—Andrew DuBois, Harvard Review
“This dual autobiography is shockingly slim…. The book’s method surfaces with luminous result, making its size a comment, rather than a hindrance….
This sort of story prepares us for the terse phrases of [Keith] Waldrop’s poetry itself, placed alone on the page as if within a “void”, uttered abruptly, so as to make the silence of the page almost audible….
[Rosmarie Waldrop] swings between unwavering looks at her own past and moving descriptions of her working life in poetry…. their tales of commerce with French literati feed off each other and are as enjoyable as Roger Shattuck’s The Banquet Years….
The book’s candor and vivacity are made new in both autobiographies, and should inspire, both in newcomers and weathered enthusiasts of their work, a great deal of respect.”
—Max Winter, Double Change