Review by Eric Dean Wilson
Last September, for the first time, we observed gravitational waves. Two supermassive black holes, after waltzing around each other for some eons, merged. This observation—an invisible ripple in the fabric of space-time, detected only because of the enormous energy released from the collision—was recorded as an audible “chirp,” a kind of cosmic trombone slide up three octaves, low to high. This proved, almost exactly one hundred years after, a new part of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. It seems fitting now for New Directions to release Gap Gardening, the first selected poems of Rosmarie Waldrop. She stands apart as a writer who translates these astronomical rules—the force of gravity, the curvature of space-time—into the sport of human experience. This volume, edited by Nikolai Duffy alongside the poet herself, offers selections from each of Waldrop’s seventeen collections of poetry, plus a verse section of her “novel,” A Form / Of Taking / It All. With this collection, it is evident that Waldrop’s universe begins where Einstein’s ends. Nearly fifty years of lyric riffs, meditations, and collages—using as source material the works of physicists, philosophers, explorers, historians, and critics, from Columbus to Wittgenstein—seek to simultaneously define, deconstruct, and, finally, re-construct a mind in motion . . .