In the Room of Never Grieve
New and Selected Poems 1985-2003
2003 • 400 pages • ISBN: 978-1-56689-145-5 • $30
Poetry, includes CD
Coffee House Press
In the Room of Never Grieve charts Anne Waldman’s dynamic career and reveals a mature, wise, and spiritual poet with enormous energy and vast literary powers. A CD featuring Waldman’s performance of her signature work accompanies this exhilarating and vital addition to American poetry. While reading these poems is essential, hearing the poet’s voice lift them off the page is transcendent.
Picking up where Helping the Dreamer: New and Selected Poems 1966-1988 left off, this second culling from Waldman’s vast oeuvre includes excerpts from Waldman’s acclaimed Fast-Speaking Woman, and arrives up-to-the-moment, covering the Florida election debacle, September 11, the 2003 war in Iraq, and the third and latest installation of Waldman’s ongoing epic exploration into maleness, Iovis. If early work found her most engaged with the New York School, these later poems integrate her passions for Buddhism and ethnopoetics into a unique style of vocal, unabashedly current-event-laden, collagistic, wide-ranging work. Waldman’s quest to find forms appropriate to her shamanistic, didactic content is particularly compelling in Marriage: A Sentence, with its liquefied gender roles and synthesis of influences ranging from Stein to Corso: “That’s for sure for when you are married people people understand understand you do not have to answer answer a doorbell because sex sex may happen happen without delay delay. You will hear everything twice, through your ears & the ears of the other. Her or him as a case case may be be. He & he & she & she as a case case may be may be.” However, it is Iovis, presented here in three consecutive parts, in which Waldman’s verbal dynamism and focused political outrage begins, in Book I, as an exploration of male-centered psychology, and evolves into an inquiry into the discourse of war: “what is the sweetest war lore?// most terrible?// that of narration?// It’s war crimes tribunal time.” With an accompanying CD (not heard by PW), Waldman’s untiring efforts to link language, ritual and political action come through clearly, urgently and often beautifully.
“When Allen Ginsberg passed from us it was Anne Waldman who dutifully gathered up his many burdens, continuing his work as poet, activist, and teacher. In following his example she has bloomed as an example herself. How fortunate we are to have her among us and may we all reach out and take a small amount of her burden upon ourselves.”
“Waldman is at the apex of her career, and the legitimate heir to Allen Ginsberg’s crown as America’s underground ‘poet-ambassador’ laureate.”
—Colorado Springs Independent