G.C. Waldrep’s poems have widely praised for their lush musicality and vibrant soundscapes, and this new poem sequence is no exception. Yet what I find most striking about these poems is their expansive and heartening vision of what experimentation can be. In so much of contemporary poetry, innovative approaches to language and syntax are framed as purely cerebral endeavors, valuable only for their philosophical implications. Instead, Waldrep reminds us that the desire to experiment, and to innovate, arises from a sense of joy in inhabiting language. Here, the poem’s subtle repetitions are at turns humorous, playful, and disconcerting, reminding us that a single word contains within it the world.
G.C. Waldrep was born and raised in the South. He earned his BA from Harvard University, a PhD in history from Duke University, and an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa. His collections of poetry include Goldbeater’s Skin (2003), which won the Colorado Prize for Poetry; Disclamor (2007); Archicembalo (2009), winner of the Dorset Prize; Your Father on the Train of Ghosts (2011), a collaborative book of poems with John Gallaher; and the long poem Testament (2015). His chapbooks include The Batteries (2006), One Way No Exit (2008), Szent László Hotel (2011), and Susquehanna (2013). Waldrep’s most recent books are feast gently (Tupelo Press, 2018) and the long poem Testament (BOA Editions, 2015).