Rosmarie Waldrop

Rosmarie Waldrop (born August 24, 1935), née Sebald, is a contemporary American poet, translator and publisher. Born in Germany, she has lived in the United States since 1958. She has lived in Providence, Rhode Island since the late 1960s. Waldrop is coeditor and publisher of Burning Deck Press, as well as the author or coauthor (as of 2006) of 17 books of poetry, two novels, and three books of criticism.

Early life in Germany

Waldrop was born in Kitzingen am Main on August 24, 1935. Her father, Joseph Sebald, taught physical education at the town's high school.[1] 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.

University years

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 1956–57 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.

In the United States

The couple married, and Rosmarie started studying at Michigan, where she got a Ph.D. in 1966. She also became extremely active in literary, musical and artistic circles around the university and the wider Ann Arbor community. She began serious translation of French and German poetry. 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. As such, she is sometimes closely associated with the Language School.

Poetry and translations

Rosmarie Waldrop started publishing her own poetry in English in the late 1960s. Since then, she has published over three dozen books of poetry, prose and translation. Today her work is variously characterized as verse experiment, philosophical statement and personal narrative. Of the many formative influences on her mature style, a crucial influence was a year spent in Paris in the early 1970s, where she came into contact with leading avant garde French poets, including Claude Royet-Journoud, Anne-Marie Albiach, and Edmond Jabès. These writers influenced her own work, but equally, she became one of the main translators of their work into English and Burning Deck one of the main vehicles for introducing their work to an English-language readership.

Awards and achievements

Rosmarie Waldrop has given readings and published in many parts of Europe as well as the U.S. She has received numerous awards and fellowships and was made a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. In 2003 she was awarded a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006. She received the 2008 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for her translation of Ulf Stolterfoht's book Lingos I - IX. Her translation of Almost 1 Book / Almost 1 Life by Elfriede Czurda was nominated for the Best Translated Book Award (2013).[2]

Selected publications



Essays and criticism

Series,Vol.1, No.3 (April 1997)



  1. Steve Evans, "Rosmarie Waldrop," Dictionary of Literary Biography v.169 (1996).
  2. Chad W. Post. "2013 Best Translated Book Award: The Poetry Finalists". Three Percent. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  4. brings together three volumes: The Reproduction of Profiles, Lawn of Excluded Middle , and Reluctant Gravities

Further reading

Rosmarie & Keith Waldrop: Ceci n'e pas Keith Ceci n'e pas Rosmarie: Autobiographies, (Providence, Rhode Island, 2002)

Exhibits, sites, and homepages
Readings and talks (audiofiles)
Others on Waldrop including reviews, criticism, and retrospectives
Work online including poems and essays
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