In this collection, Waldrop has dedicated many poems to other writers whom she esteems, and in each poem, echoes subtly that writer’s forms, tones, and textures. From this synchronism, Waldrop evolves her own unique mediums of address that suggests a slipperiness in human emotion and in human speech.
“Her jumpy, startling, abstract sentences seek to interrogate ordinary notions of logic, reference, grammar and truth…. Waldrop’s work plays intellect off against itself, appealing to chaos theory, non-Euclidian geometry and contemporary cosmology in order to undermine ordinary ideas….” — Publishers Weekly
“Waldrop fixes our attention on the literally figurative and the figuratively literal…. This slippage, especially when applied to the awkward reality of human sexuality, often creates moments of true humor: Rosmarie Waldrop is at once a philosopher of language and a master of the absurd that arises as we try to say what we mean, or mean what we say, or be what we may say.” — Eric Elshtain, Chicago Review
“Rosmarie Waldrop… mediates between European and American experimental poetry…. The study of the dialogic textuality of language is also a study of ourselves and how we engage the world. This is a powerful and not unfamiliar lesson; but with a mixture of clarity and obliquity and much startling imagery Waldrop give it a vitality no psycholinguistics textbook offers.” — William Doreski, Harvard Review
“Waldrop’s language is more than simply self-referential – it actually interrogates it’s own meaning, relationally. That is, it questions and challenges its place as a word and its place in the great flux of meaning. It is language and it creates meaning, but how? How does meaning exist in relation to actual bodies? How does language exist as a thing among actual objects in reality and how does it undermine the existence of both? Waldrop uses a “logic of disassembly” via syntax and grammar, as well as a methodology of non-sequitur within the structural and formal component of each sentence to call attention to the signifying quality of the word, and, then, using a similar strategy, she pulls the signifier away from the signified, the meaning from the image.
Waldrop’s conflicting gestures seem to create a sort of contract with silence, with white space, and with logic. It’s not as if one can deny reason or silence, but somehow we can push against it, while also pushing against the noise that seemd to make our assumptions and expectations about experience and reality so threadbare. She asks, “What goes on in my mind? A hidden music? Not yet audible. Or only with large gaps. The winds imprisoned in the bag drown out the sirens.” To navigate through, across, and over Waldrop’s sea of language requires new intuitions, associations, interpretations and grammars. It’s as if the grammatical apparatus and cognitive instruments have failed and we must learn language as if for the first time, replete with the joys and playfulness of words, as well as the frustrations and despair these words sometimes carry with them. And, characteristically, the language is connected to the body and to a sense of urgency – i.e. something human, something emotional: “The expectation of your kiss seems like a shadow of feeling your mouth just as this sentence seems like a shadow of love is never what we expect, but like pain makes no detour.””