Winner of the 2008 Open Book Competition, selected by the Open Book Editorial Committee
To see Liz Waldner's poem "The Sovereignty and the Goodness of God, Together with the Faithfulness of His Promises Displayed" in The New Yorker, click here.
“Liz Waldner's Trust is a book I’ve been waiting to read for years. Political in the extreme, deliciously crafted, as menacing as it is hysterical, as intellectually sophisticated as it is laugh-out-loud funny, this book ought to be written in silver pen on bathroom stalls, sent as gold records to outer space, or written in gin on a glass-top table in your
favorite karaoke bar. Slip a copy into your shoulder-bag and take it wherever you go.”
— Kazim Ali, author of The Fortieth Day
Our senses entrust to us the world that the heart minds, and so gives us a point of view, the “sight we hope to see through (to) / Always.” Deeply attentive to form and music, each of these poems, written between the early eighties and mid-nineties, serves as a trust for the mending of that sense of separateness. Ever the stranger in yet another strange place—in subway and orchard, ER and library, cemetery and classroom—they ask: “What is the shape?” of the story. “Who is mindful of me?” and sometimes answer: “Thank you, I have enjoyed / imagining all this.”
Born in Cleveland, Liz Waldner grew up in rural Mississippi and, after various factory, janitorial, botanical, and museum jobs, graduated from St. John's College in Annapolis at the age of twenty-eight. She wrote for eighteen years before publishing the first of her six previous books, which have won such awards as the Iowa Poetry Prize, the Beatrice Hawley Award, and the Academy of American Poets’ James Laughlin Prize.
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To read a review of Trust on Constant Critic, click here.
Dream of Hat and Mouth
A voice, maybe mine, is saying this:
"They are doing something else
But they are thinking about vi-o-lets."
"Vi-o-lets" means "vi-o-lence," I know.
Meanwhile, the brim of my young grandfather's hat
Exactly parallels his perfect arc of lip
An inch above it. No eyes, no nose
Only hat for a face and its edge's pendant echo smiled below.
He's standing watering posies with Mr. MacGregor's
Watering can. The fine strands of smiling
Water fall like hair. I can't see my little sister
But she is there - maybe in the feel of the water-hair
The finger's followed back to sprouting metal hat. Maybe
In the feel of the look of the nipple-eyed buds. Maybe
In the facts of the flowers themselves
That have to be, at last, what their witnesses are.
My sister is four. I'm six, myself.
We lie back to back in the single white bed
For punishment's afternoon nap. We whisper anyway.
White curtains frame the window's face,
A valance like my bangs on its brow. With a little switch of hair
I am turning the sun on and off.
She says I said so. I don't know.
It might have been the voice of the angry April day.
"Liz Waldner's Trust is a book I’ve been waiting to read for years. Political in the extreme, deliciously crafted, as menacing as it is hysterical, as intellectually sophisticated as it is laugh-out-loud funny, this book ought to be written in silver pen on bathroom stalls, sent as gold records to outer space, or written in gin on a glass-top table in your favorite karaoke bar. Slip a copy into your shoulder-bag and take it wherever you go.”
— Kazim Ali, author of The Fortieth Day
“In Liz Waldner’s weird and luminous poems, the empirical and the empyrean are as two sides of a copper beech leaf. The changeling slips out of old names into new uses, slips out of old uses into new names. Between the phenomenon and the noumenon depends (deep ends) a trust—a wavering alliance fed on fiery symbiosis. This is comedy in the most painfully honest and brilliant light, comedy that gives our ears and minds a miraculous whipping, that teaches us willingness to be made new, to make of the self one’s ‘own bright threshold.’”
— Sarah Gridley, author of Weather Eye Open
“At a time when defamiliarization has almost become de rigeur, Liz Waldner’s poems do the opposite, and instead refamiliarize us with the physical and perceptual world. In this book, ‘The body is the vehicle of a wish,’ and ‘The earth / Is a fault in you.’ Often metonymic and metaphysical, and always searching for truth in the most minute corner, Trust invites its readers to close their eyes, lean back, and let go.”
— Mary Biddinger, author of Prairie Fever