Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Analogies of Escape
Given to me by the other Waldrop, Rosmarie, when she came to read for Just Buffalo in, I think, 1998 or 9. I've met Rosmarie two or three times, but I have never actually met Keith. He did come to Buffalo for a reading when I was in grad school.
Rosa Alcalá, a former student of both Waldrops, introduced him. In her introduction she told a very witty anecdote about Keith giving her some advice about translation. Sadly, I can't remember how the story goes. The long and the short of it was that the advice was so obvious that one wouldn't generally even think it needed to be said aloud. But saying it out loud Waldrop gave the seemingly obvious advice a kind of fundamental importance. Damn, it's right on the tip of my tongue and I can't remember it. I am going to have to ask Rosa to chime in on this one.
UPDATE: Rosa sent me her complete introduction, which concludes with the following anecdote. She writes:
Many years ago, while I was a student of Waldrop’s at Brown, and before I had attempted my own translations, I asked him what his approach to translation was, expecting this superb translator of the French to offer me a key to his secret, a way in. He leaned into me, very earnestly, and said, “I start by looking up each word.”
Actually, now that I think of it, I may have met Keith on that visit. Rosa threw a party for the two of them. She had an apartment on Franklin St. with a groovy curved staircase leading from the ground floor up to the bedroom. My memory of the party is pretty vague. I remember talking to Rosmarie, and I have a vague memory of seeing Rosa talking to Keith. I think I may have shaken hands with him before I left, but I don't think we spoke.
After Rosmarie's solo visit to Buffalo she sent me a postcard that had a lovely collage by Keith on the front side. I framed it and have had it hanging in my office at each house we've owned.
from Analogies of Escape
from Standard Candles
This is the house I did not build.
This is the room at the top of the stairs in a house I didn't build.
This is the desk–from a different generation_wedged in the window-nook of an upstairs room in a house someone else built.
This is the mess I've made. Under it all is a fire I did not set.
In the noise the world makes there is no windwo and here I lay my words in the loud, in the burning, the built. This is a fire from before fire ever came down.
This is my mess, over the noise of fire, window, desk, stair, house.