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Long considered a transcendentalist for the new millennium, Brown University's Brooke Russell Astor Professor of Humanities, Keith Waldrop (b. 1932), the Kansas-born author of a dozen-plus exquisite volumes of prose, poetry (from 1968's A Windmill Near Calvary to 2003's The House Seen from Nowhere) and translations (most notably a sensitive and sensuously rich 2006 rendering of Baudelaire's L es fleurs du mal), expressed genuine surprise and delight upon learning his latest work, Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy (University of California Press), had earned The National Book Foundation's 2009 Poetry Award, particularly given the high calibre of co-nominees for the distinguished honour (including Carl Phillips, Ann Lauterbach, Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon and Rae Armantrout).

<object width="400" height="300"><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="movie" value="" /><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" width="400" height="300"></embed></object><p><a href="">Keith Waldrop at the 2009 National Book Awards, Poetry</a> from <a href="">National Book Foundation</a> on <a href="">Vimeo</a>.</p>

The jury members -- Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, A. Van Jordan, Cole Swensen and Kevin Young -- provided fine food for thought concerning the work's satisfying contents: "If transcendental immanence were possible, it would be because Keith Waldrop had invented it; he's the only one who could; and, in Transcendental Studies, he has. These three linked series achieve a fusion arcing from the Romantic to the Post-modern that demonstrates language's capacity to go to extremes -- and to haul daily lived experience right along with it: life imitates language, and when language becomes these poems, life itself gets more various, more volatile, more vital."

Simply sample, for ambrosial example, this tasty morsel from Waldrop's "Shipwreck in Haven" (which exists in its entirety here):

Enemies for therapy, the rind of the lime tree in elaborate garlands.

Strew the table. Let the hall be garlanded and lit, the will to break away. Welcome your couches.

Witness these details. Your judgment, my inclination. Hear. Touch. Taste. Translate. Fixed: the river.

Disquieting thought, I am not ultimate, full moon, memory. Prepare for rout.

Waldrop, a recipient of France's Chevalier des arts et des lettres, currently resides in Providence, RI (where he shares co-editing duties with his wife, Rosemarie, at Burning Deck Press , itself highly regarded for its expansive dedication to aesthetic value and poetic vision).

FWIW: Congratulations to the superior self-styled poet, freelancer, editor and Kid Contrarian, Carmine Starnino, whose most recent tome, This Way Out, hauled in the A. M. Klein Poetry Prize for a work his publisher, Kentville, NS's pre-eminent Gaspereau Press, describes as "full of lyrical escapes, exits and embarkations that set out to measure degrees of belonging" . . . In Other Words concurrently salutes Barcelonian novelist Juan Marsé (76) who received the Spanish-speaking world's highest literary honour, the $169,256.67 CAD Miguel de Cervantes Prize -- a.k.a. The Premio Miguel de Cervantes or, more colloquially, the Spanish Nobel -- at a ceremony attended by, among others, King Juan Carlos. Marsé, the Catalonian author of The Dark Story of Cousin Montse, If They Tell You I Fell and Girl with Golden Panties, gracefully noted, "I don't consider myself an intellectual, just a narrator . . . I am so addicted to fiction that sometimes I think that only made-up things will be able to maintain their structure, to preserve some kind of beauty over the course of time."

JSYK: You'll find the prize-winning NBF works of fiction, non-fiction and youngster lit -- as well as their shortlisters -- here. Over-Barian Professional Contrarian Camille Paglia formed part of the non-fiction panel; but, sadly, neither Marcel Theroux nor Jayne Anne Phillips made the fiction grade. Moi pleurer un fleuve . . . Peut-on dire, nous a été volé? Quel fromage . . . Absolument vrai, eh?

CONFIDENTIELLE à D. du B.: Mais, bien sûr . . . If you wish to see your poetic works or public events featured here @ IOW, an equal-op one-stop egalitarian po-shop, you jes' emails da details to, K? K. Easy as 3.14159265. Avoir une belle journée.

(Photograph of Keith Waldrop © Renate von Mangoldt.)

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