In the following essay, the critic gives a critical analysis of Waldner’s work.
Liz Waldner’s poetry has often been compared to that of experimental writer Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) for its innovative voice and style, which has been described as audacious, witty, intelligent, and sarcastic. Waldner is said to push the edge in terms of meaning and language.
Waldner’s most celebrated publication is A Point Is That Which Has No Part (2000), a collection of poems that mix math and science with modern poetics. Whether she is discussing sex, time, or death, the subjects of her poems are colored with emotions that express longing and loss. This is a book that a reviewer for American Poet described as ‘‘deliberately unpredictable in its forms and subjects,’’ referring to Waldner’s ability to write as if her words were coming straight from her unconscious onto the page. This excerpt from ‘‘Wednesday Morning Pray Time’’ provides an example:
‘‘Thumb, plum sex in a nutshell, plumb line, heart line, throw out the live line (phone sex) I mean lifeline, Jesus is coming for me. When he washed oh when he washed when my Jesus washed he washed my sins away. O happy day with thunder clouds, O dunder-head, O Donner, O Blitzen, all alone (a sorry pass) in the wrack of the roof of history.’’
In this passage, Waldner wanders through nursery rhymes, Biblical stories, lines from hymns, and finally historical events and pop culture. A reviewer for the American Poet quoted Waldner’s description of her method of writing, in which, she says, there is ‘‘no transition from ‘out of it’ to ‘right back in.’’’
Although Waldner does not define her writing as such, her poetic style calls to mind the stream-of- consciousness writing that James Joyce (1882- 1941) first popularized, a process through which the author...
(The entire section is 636 words.)