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The Not Forever
Keith Waldrop

2013 • 112 pp. 6 x 9"
Poetry - American

$17.95 Paperback, 978-1-890650-88-9

“This book finds him thinking about the objects and actions that compose everyday life and how those things point the way toward death. ... Waldrop strikingly... [continued in Reviews below]”—Editors, Publishers Weekly

As the title of The Not Forever suggests, these poems take not only mortality, but also the impossibility of truly assessing mortality, as their endlessly inexplicable subject.

As the title of The Not Forever suggests, these poems take not only mortality, but also the impossibility of truly assessing mortality, as their endlessly inexplicable subject. Keith Waldrop’s language is, by turns, wry, brazen, brilliant, humorous, sorrowful, and entirely unforgettable as he focuses upon all that cannot be absorbed by the logical mind’s measure of aging and loss. Waldrop is a master at discerning what is recognizable within the “not” of our attention whether it is an attention to the future, the past, or to that instant we call the present, which is the most impossible to grasp. His canny meditations make the particulars of daily life shine with an uncanny brilliance as he assesses the quintessentially human inability to exact knowledge from the existence that we live, as well as from the inexistence that we each are veering toward. A major force in American avantgarde poetics for decades, Waldrop gives us an emotionally compelling, intellectually demanding articulation of what living in full awareness of the “not forever” means.

Reviews / Endorsements

This book finds him thinking about the objects and actions that compose everyday life and how those things point the way toward death. ... Waldrop strikingly comes to terms with the immediacy and frailty of these things, and by turns his own: “wait, creaky old/ elevator// lithe with/ gray-streaked hair, just/ around the corner.”—Editors, Publishers Weekly

Part of the beauty of science is in the exploration of just how impossibly real and unreal the notion of “reality” actually is, ripping to shreds any idea of singular perspective or perception. Waldrop appears to grasp the pure mechanics of that simple, and complex idea, writing out multiple possibilities and even realities through the imperfect, and yet, often impossibly precise, machinery of language.—rob mclennan, rob mclennan's blog

The vigorous blend of sensation and abstract thought in these lines, coupled with the dissonant amalgam of imagery, generate an exquisite confusion, a domain of the imagination in which the apprehension of homelessness, of a decentered subjectivity flooded with ecstatic Being, finds expression in a language that is set in continual motion. The lines are brief, taut, tactile. They are set in space like stones in a creek to help with a crossing. The immediate impression is one of simplicity, but that is a deception. They’re not quiet epiphanies of eastern poetry, à la Cid Corman, but the evocative propositions of a physicist working equations out with words rather than mathematical symbols. The sense of motion comes from the interplay of contrasts; it is a function of space and time free to turn in various directions.—John Olson, Tillalala Chronicles

These “inventions,” as Waldrop names them, bring to mind in vivid fashion the myriad meanings of the word and its root: “to come upon,” “to discover or find,” “to fashion by means of the imagination,” and so on. There is also of course the musical invention, a short theme developed contrapuntally. Waldrop’s music explores, by means of his singular voice, “time’s bric-a-brac,” the enigmas of belief, identity and relation, the mystery of the “now,” and what de Kooning memorably called reality’s “slipping glimpse.” The Not Forever challenges our habits of perception in ways both playful and deeply serious.—Michael Palmer, Author of Thread

Asserting the sovereignty of the actual, Waldrop presents us with the objects of this world in all their singularity and irreducibility. The author of some twenty volumes of poetry and prose, in this work he pursues the questions that have driven all his works—the difference between body and spirit, the distinction between surface and depth—in ever-expanding terms and yet in ever more detailed and meticulous ways. Lifting vocabulary and tone from the philosophic, the mythic, the scientific, and the biblical, these pieces take a vast range of knowledge and of ways of knowing and fold them in together to create a millefeuille of idea and image in which the only real thing is language. This is a work whose beauty and intensity anchor us to the present, and keep us there.—Cole Swensen, Author of Gravesend

From the Book:


I am lost.

And, “I am lost,” says
the dreamer.

And, “I have lost
all,” the dreamer
cries, “life
flows away in tears.”

And love, “colorless<return>
in my lungs...”

Or in the humor of the<return>
eye, ashes...

“I do not
know,” says the dreamer, “where
my beloved is.”


“And I do not know...”

I do not

“...where I am.”

KEITH WALDROP is the author of numerous collections of poetry, most recently Transcendental Studies (University of California Press, 2009), a trilogy of collage poems which won the National Book Award for Poetry. Also, Several Gravities (Siglio, 2009), a collection of collages and a translation of Charles Baudelaire's Paris Spleen (Wesleyan, 2009). His other work includes The Real Subject: Queries and Conjectures of Jacob Delafon: With Sample Poems (Omnidawn, 2004). His other collections of poetry include The House Seen from Nowhere (2003), Haunt (2000), Well Well Reality (1998, with Rosmarie Waldrop), and the trilogy The Locality Principle (1995), The Silhouette of the Bridge, which won the Americas Award for Poetry (1997), and Semiramis, If I Remember (2001). He has translated several contemporary French poets, such as Anne-Marie Albiach, Claude Royet-Journoud, Dominique Fourcade, Jean Grosjean, and Paol Keineg. In 2006, he completed a translation of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal (Wesleyen University Press). Waldrop has received an award from the Fund for Poetry, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Berlin Artists Program of the DAAD. In 2000, he received a Medal from the French government with rank of Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters, for lifetime contribution to French literature. He currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where he has retired from teaching at Brown University. He has served as co-editor of Burning Deck Press with his wife Rosmarie Waldrop since 1968.

Sat, 2 Dec 2017 12:11:21 -0500