A Point Is That Which Has No Part
Winner of the 2000 James Laughlin Award
“Audacious and dazzling, Waldner is a defiant strategist, a 'Mapper of (Possible) Fact,' a femme fatale of the spoken (as written) word. A serious, silly shilly-shallier bent on demonstrating language as the 'future's suture's revenue—the shining hour improved,' she is that rare poet in any era—the daring (darling) smarty-pants we giddily follow into the water (as well as to all other wheres). A Point Is That Which Has No Part provides a permanent pause and unrepentant delight.”—Mary Jo Bang
“For a long time now I have been looking for a book of poems which actually engages the essentials of, rather than merely exploits the surface of, significant concepts from mathematics and the sciences. A Point Is That Which Has No Part is a book about strangeness, about making the vision strange enough that Truth will reveal itself. The music of the mind is brought into congruence with the music of the page, of the arbitrary but beautiful and delicate words themselves, making both elegance and passion gleam from the pages.”—Bin Ramke
“From brief sarcastic couplets to dense, lush blocks of prose, Waldner's debut mixes sassiness, smarts and lyricism, intellectual querulousness with personal bitterness, vigor and exasperation…Waldner's metalinguistic obsessions, tics and jazzy contemporaneity do not prevent her from seeing a real world with people in it, making this debut worth seeking out.”—Publishers Weekly
“ From the title on, reading A Point Is That Which Has No Part is a singular and wonderfully upsetting experience … the title must be followed by an imiplied but. A point is that which has no part, but this is a book of and about parts: sexual parts, dramatic parts, that which is parted, and that which is not parted or pared—excess. In bold contrast to the title, this book is brilliantly about not coming to the point.”—American Poet
“Waldner's book makes the most use of language-at-the-edge. She concentrates on the line between conventional and non-conventional meaning, and spends much of her time poised right on it. She works with tremendous momentum, piling words up into a rush: ‘A panda bear from the county fair is like unto a spelling error’;‘Finis:fate. Ponder, wonder, wander. The river Lysander. Today’s a meander.’There’s a playfulness to the rush, and exuberance that seems always about to burst.”—Cole Swensen, Boston Review
“Waldner's use of Eucklid's forms as a framing device reminds us that the pure substances that make up language—words themselves—like the pure forms of Euclid, simply wait for our latest revleations to release anew their ever-shifting possiblities, as beautiful in their strangeness as they are strange in their beauty.”—Syllogism
Liz Waldner's bold new collection takes its title and its inspiration from Definition 1 of Euclid's Elements of Geometry. Its six sections—point, line, circle, square, triangle, and point again—are explorations of various kinds of longing and loss—sex, death, exile, story, love, and time. Drawing from culture high and low—Eno and Aquinas, Lassie and Donne, Silicon Valley and Walden Pond—these poems offer proof of and proof against the “mortal right-lined circle” of memory and identity.
The innocence and Keatsian beauty of Euclid's geometry become poignant from a perspective that encompasses all that is non-Euclidean as well as space, time, and the theory of matter. With rare wit and linguistic daring, Waldner opens resonant channels of communication that show there is indeed more than meets the eye—or the mind—in her poems.
Hand to Mouth (Twist and Shout)
Cold comes slow up out
of the darkness among the leaves
that smell so good when bruised
Do you, too, recognize me
god so soon?
Her First Reckoning
Pour wine into vessels the violet of woods,
wine of the reddening stars.
You are god, you can do it.
Your lover calls you St. John the Conqueror.
I have heard her.
This is the name of a root.
Asperge the thousands and thousands of rooms
in which photosynthesis promises sun
to the acolyte cells. Rain yourself on a leaf.
Birch. The bark is malleable as mushroom flesh.
Show that you know me. Scratch out my name
with this tree. My name of trees.
On the day I arrive at the door of my death,
myself now hard to tell
from the trees that had hid it from me,
I will demand that you love me.
You made me like this.
Why did you make me like this?
Transitive, Intransitive: Extemporary Measures
Two crows above the marsh: sew.
Stitch the seventeen sleek shades of blue
to the shadow-patterned greens below.
See fit to make me a suitable view who
having nowhere to else to go
might as well wear this world well.
Llama necks periscope the view:
yonder, across the water, you
testing the air now a crow
chases a redwing blackbird through.
What can I show you who sees
I don't believe? For now,
what the eye of the needle sees:
through through through:
clouds, birds, me, trees;
soon: in, out, with, to;
something moving, something moved:
a stitch in time's an avenue,
future's sutures' revenue—
“the shining hour” improved.