Roger Weingarten

Poetry.

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Poetry Overview

Roger Weingarten is the author of 11 poetry collections, including Ethan Benjamin Boldt, Knopf, Ghost wrestling, Godine, andThe Four Gentlemen and Their Footman, Longleaf, 2015. Co-editor: 8 poetry and prose anthologies, he’s taught & read atconferences, poetry festivals, & universities internationally. Founder/Senior ProfessorMFA in Writing & Postgraduate Writers’ Conference at Vermont College 1981-2008, his awards include: a Pushcart Prize, 3 Vermont Council on the Arts Grants, a Louisville Review Poetry Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship , an Ingram MerrillAward in Literature. His poems, stories, essays have appeared in magazines and journals, including The New Yorker, Poetry, American Poetry Review, The New Republic, Poetry East, The Stonewall Book of Short Fictions, Paris Review, Nine Mile, and Numero Cinq. 

 

 
 
 

Poems

 

TO THE DAY

the panhandler on her knees, forearms
and forehead pressing the tourist
littered street, cups her hands.

To the day I closed
in on the clean
shaven red-cheeked man who lifts

the vagrant to her feet and cups
her face in manicured fingers, chanting
to her in a tongue I’ll never

get the real
gist of, his
smile—like the cuckolded

Joseph cradling his infant
stepson—aglow. Months
ago, to the day, when the deep-set

hazel eyes of this
Lazarus open to what
seems to be someone else’s

heart executing
a tango with itself on two
monitors, I ask the hovering

jowls filling the green
mask, when can I have
sex. Wrong

question, my little Isaac,
it smirked. Your heart’s
undamaged and you can screw

the world into the next
century only
when I say so. To the day

when I ask the Joseph smile if he
speaks English, and he nods. Then ask
this woman if it’s easier

to die if you
are already dead. Who, he asks,
going pale, the hell are you,

then lifts the tattered
beggar into his arms
and walks away.

LIGHT YEAR OF MR. AND MRS. HAMMERED HORSESHIT

Bubonic insomnia surrounds the darkest
part of their shadow falling

out of both sides of a pillow
top model of the solar
system in which planetary

phases and feline
satellites move at relative
velocities around Herr
und Frau Gehämmert Pferdeäpfel’s
mechanical bed. Like stressed

desserts, they pull the Hidden
Star heirloom quilt fondant-taut
over a nebula of flannel
sheets soft as Depression
Cake then step
into a constellation of cat
puke in the hall. Frau looks

down at meteoroids shooting
across her night
blue toenails. Herr looks up
through charged
particles in the magnetic
field between them, and says—just
as asteroid Belle Starr
the Cat brushes his ankle—I’m pretty
sure you think I’m just a sleepless
sentimental slob in close
orbit around the celestial

aureoles of your soul, but I can’t
breathe without your moon
square Venus. Quasi
stellar in her threadbare
bathrobe that radiates
a redshift, she slows,
stops, and moves in the opposite
direction. It’s OK, she says, reciting
primes and reaching
for the planemo of his
left hand, pulling it
back into perigee with her belly
climbing their ultra-galactic
bed chamber orrery, from which,
with the Littlest
Dipper of his right foot,
he clicks the door.

 

SEE BELOW

See beneath the Poughkeepsie
Picasso pasadoble

premonition projected
on the domed
planetarium night. See behind eyelids

cupping red-eyed
grief churning weeds into drifting

toward a great
northern loon and her bobbing
chick about to plunge

through a daydreamed
hand that lifts me into a whispered

you need to wake now and leave
through the emergency. Plumb white
capped haze that

surrounds the capsized—you
put your left foot in, you put

your right foot out—canoe, under
which Little Brother’s
knuckles—clutching metal

thwarts cursing our father who aren’t
in heaven—slap the dome, upside

down and bobbing
on a wake, a wake
replete with schnapps and honey

cake crumbs scattered
across linen, absent

the hokey pokey first and tipsy
second born. Low-rise
low brow post

modern plumber/anti
Rilkean prankster, don’t I,

like Pablo’s Minotaur
with Javelin and a Woman
Hostage, just

love my life? Never
wake. Never. Hallelujah.

SELF-PORTRAIT IN THE CONVEX BUMPER OF A FORD WOODY

Hunched woman
in a babushka waddling

up the subway
stairs shlepping her

life in the two
bags under her eyes,

spits, but he’s
a jew to the un

dead voice in her head. Good
shabbos, old

mother, I offer, and touch
a fingertip to my black

skullcap, and take a shot
at a smile. Please, Little

Mike, she coaxes, carry these
bags to the street, and if you’re

nice, I’ll give you a nickel. My childhood
name slashed

across her face and the pale
blue numbers of hers

tattooed to her wrist pull
the breath out of my lungs and me

back to a self
portrait in the convex

bumper of a Ford
woody easing

its way out of the gates
of a neighborhood restricted

to Jews. Tow
headed boys toss in the back

seat, while a woman
wearing a hat and net veil

over her eyes mouths
kike through the passenger

window. My eight-year old
jaw dropped while what remained
of my childhood straddled
my bike.

Books & Resume

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Collections & Anthologies

 
 

THE FOUR GENTLEMEN AND THEIR FOOTMEN, 2015

"Largely due to the novelistic structure of his second book, Ethan Benjamin Boldt,      some critics tagged Roger Weingarten as a narrative poet. What’s missing is the lyric element in his work: meditative, linguistically wild, and sometimes satiric. Weingarten is an iconoclast who should be read like Pound. The Four Gentlemen and their Footman is his postmodern take on High Modernism, a multilayered meditation on the nature of being, a self-skewering, conflicted, and impassioned Roman a clef told in a voice full of riddles and double entendre, occasionally in other languages, as if the mishaps of the poet’s life were the stuff of black comedy—his objective correlative."
- Marcus Cafagna
"Roger Weingarten's geometrized sestinas swarm forth like the surround sound of a dioramic kaleidoscope spinning on super speed.  Rabelais, Joyce, and Nabokov bubble up, but so any savors season this stew. The beauty and intellectual depth of Weingarten's diction is simply wondrous. Whatta mind! In the flash of a syllable wiseass blossoms into poignancy, and I know of no ironist more profound or sincere."
- William Hathaway
"The Four Gentlemen and Their Footman dances with a cat named mehitabel, the poems careening through the multiple lives a man slips in and out of over the years. Roger Weingarten’s language is both weapon and hammock, a trap or sly embrace and what a joy to burst out with snorts of laughter while reading a poem! With the powers and passions of brilliantly unpredictable language, the poet navigates a continuous tremor of betrayal which both shored up and shattered his first family then seeped into his marriages; the visceral complexities of being a guy, and a Jewish one at that, are both hilarious and wrenching. Yet both the poet and his poems are vigorously optimistic. Tender, bitter, uproarious—how can you not love book like this which gives and gives and gives."
- Pamela Stewart
"Jazzy, allusive, and electric, Roger Weingarten’s new collection embodies an 'unquenchable/yen for the trembling.' With his staccato rhythms, trademark enjambment, and technicolor diction, Weingarten never goes gently in these cubist marvels that mythologize experience and the poet’s own fathomless imagination even as they bare his ragged swooning heart. Prepare yourself, dear reader, for 'a jar of spirits.' Prepare for 'hallelujah and a haircut.' Here is a master who gives 'the skin/off my back, stretched and tacked/to a frame.' The Four Gentlemen and their Footman is 'whole being blossomed.' You hold a marvel in your hands."
-Adam Tavel
 

PREMATURE ELEGY BY FIRELIGHT, 2007

"From the tenderness and submerged anger of adolescence of “In the Cloud Chamber” to the betrayed love that crackles and resigns in the sequence “Into the Mouth of the Rat,” Weingarten steers us from heartbreak to wonder with language that never pulls its punches, muscular lines, and a bravura of spirit that never smooths over complexity or contradiction. Premature Elegy by Firelight is powerful, compelling work."
- Beckian Fritz Goldberg
"Over this 'field guide to fathers,' the poet’s paterfamilias presides, a figure of Jovian proportions and un-heroic epithets: he’s a 'shooting star in reverse,' his anger a 'wind tunnel,' his eyes a 'demilitarized zone.'   Through Weingarten’s bone-rattling enjambments and fecund metaphors, that father figure becomes, at last, a figure for Fate; intractable, loveless, and blind, the dark seedbed of the poet’s anger and grief.  Beware, reader—to read this haunted book is to enter into the crucible of the primal, where the spirit of poetry is figured as 'dancing around a black stick.'"
- Clare Rossini
"Deeply loving, deeply grieved, tender, enraged, accepting but not forgiving, the poems of Premature Elegy by Firelight are sometimes hilarious, sometimes harrowing, and often both at the same time as they evoke the primal dance of fathers and sons.  If Pound is right, and 'only emotion endures,' these poems will be with us for a long time."
- Charles Harper Webb
"Roger Weingarten is one of our most original and enduring poets.  The richness of the poems gathered together in Premature Elegy by Firelight comes most significantly from the original and stunning regard the poet has for the complicated pain and beauty that is our family lives.  There's beauty too in the directness here: a said quality that is at once lyrical in its surprising leaps and sometimes wild juxtaposition of images, and narrative too for the way these poems move unflinchingly towards their astute and surprising inevitabilities."
- Bruce Weigl
 

open book, 2006

"The texts we write are not visible until they are written. Like a creature coaxed from out a deep wood, the text reveals itself little by little. The maze evokes a multiplicity of approaches, the many tricks we employ to tempt the text hither," writes Rikki Ducornet in her essay, "The Deep Zoo." This book of essays is a convocation at the edge of that mystery, a meeting of minds passionate about words whose intent is to tempt language from the realms of imagination and experience onto the page.

 

manthology, 2006

"There's no telling from poem to poem where this brilliant 'conversation' about maleness and gender will lead - there are poems about husbands and wives, parents and children, Elvis, Apollo, Walt Whitman, rhythms of its politics. Manthology is a remarkably honest and enormously heartening collection."
- Nancy Eimers, author, A Grammar to Waking
"Manthology casts a wide net to capture a provocative, idiosyncratic range of takes o the male experience. One of the worst things we as men can do is take ourselves too seriously, for the consequences of doing that are indeed very serious, and the editors of this fresh, unpredictable anthology clearly recognize that. The editors do not attempt to resolve any arguments with their selections, but maybe to create a few along thw ay - it's a spirited collection from start to finish."
- Jim Daniels, author, Show and Tell: New and Selected Poems
 

Ghost Writing, 2001

Serving up chills and thrills, this collection of haunting tales offers the intelligence and emotional resonance that only comes from great writing. Whether it's John Updike writing about a shadowy Indian in a coastal New England town or T. Coraghessan Boyle's tale of a vengeful statue of the Virgin Mary, these stories show how delicious it can be to curl up with master storytellers and the things that go bump in the night.

 

GHOST WRESTLING, 1997

"In a polite age, Roger Weingarten’s poems are resolutely impolite; they allow for thesnarl and the howl, for rancor and jealousy, lust and resentment and regret laced with dark laughter…His edgy voice is an unmistakable presence in contemporary poetry."
- Mark Doty
“An intensely personal, frankly autobiographical and domestic rendering of the way our figurative ghosts—lovers, friends, family, and children—have power to torment and bless us…These poems elevate ordinary domestic relations to the level of myth.”
- Douglas Glover, The Book Show
“Musical, funny, terrifying oems of relationship in which the domestic is linked to the feral, the demotic to the fantastic…Weingarten writes like none other.”
- Alice Fulton
“These poems come and getcha like a carny barker at a raree show, who promises high-octane energy—and delivers. You can put in your thumb at random and be sure of retrieving the one true plum that satisfies.”
- Albert Goldbarth
 

INFANT BONDS OF JOY, 1990

“The pyrotechnics of Weingarten’s verbal horseplay are sprayed against a sinisterand starless sky, and we realize that this is a poet who speaks to his demons in the language of demons…gallows humor to the make the bones of Lenny Bruce rattle in their box.”
- Richard Katrovas, Three Rivers Poetry Journal
“One cannot simply read the poems of roger Weingarten: to enter this book is to be caught in swift currents of language that flow as forcefully and naturally as whitewater rapids.  Accommodating both psychedelic wordplay and hilarious, offbeat allusions, as well as forthright, healthy sentimentality, and straightforward, gutsy speech.”
The Virginia Quarterly Review
 

SHADOW SHADOW, 1986

“With energetic language and lucid vision,  Weingarten zeroes in on moments of personal history—real or imagined—and they resound. Brilliant and brilliantly unpredictable, he leaves us astonished and wanting more.”
- Robert Long
“Roger Weingarten’s ability in Shadow Shadow to write at the periphery of emotional language has created a brilliant, highly entertaining style of avoidance—resonant, nevertheless, of lightning stabs of feeling, strategically placed to stay contained within the overall need of distancefrom catastrophe. It is all in testament of Weingarten’s affirmation of the priority of poetry, of art above the entangling solipsistic personal. Transcendence is the motive, fully proven in the method.”
- David Ignatow
 
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THE VERMONT SUICIDES, 1978

“The exuberance and dexterity with which weingarten shifts focus is unlike anything else in contemporary poetry.”
The Nation
“… skillful and witty—the images are sharp, biting, coherent, the rhythms crisp, compelling, the tone energetic—all qualities regularly evinced by Weingarten at his best.”
Poetry
 
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ETHAN BENJAMIN BOLDT, 1975/1987

“It is not merely a refreshment; it is a reformation to have a book like this. Is it real life? Is it make belief? we ask when we are told a story as children, and our uncertainty is the warrant of our absorption. It is precisely Roger Weingarten’s new gift—and a very precise gift it is—to suspend our question…Except for Omensetter’s Luck, no imaginative evocation of the American rural nightmare, wet dream, and raw awakening has moved me to so compelling an awareness of what it is to live in the imagination. I believe American poetry can be honestly grateful. I know I am.”
-Richard Howard
“At a bewildering pace, to which each succeeding poem adds impetus, he draws the reader through the delirious thicket of his syntax, toward an astonishing landscape, enchanted by bats and haunted by bees.”
- Donald Finkel
“His poems have extraordinary vitality and invention.”
- Stanley Kunitz
“With Ethan Benjamin Boldt, we see a new movement beginning with the traditional unfamiliarity that attends a reconstitution of elements. The reissuing of Ethan Benjamin Boldt is meant both to save an important book and to illuminate the present scene.”
- Mark Jarman, from his introduction to Story Line Press Edition
 

Resume & Accolades

 

Poetry:

The Four Gentlemen and their Footman, Longleaf Press, Fayetteville, NC, 2015.
Premature Elegy by Firelight, Longleaf Press, Fayetteville, North Carolina, 2007.  
Greatest Hits 1972-2002, Pudding House, Johnstown, Ohio, 2003.
Ghost Wrestling, David R. Godine, Boston, 1997.         
Infant Bonds of Joy, David R. Godine, Boston, 1990.
Ethan Benjamin Boldt, Introduction by Mark Jarman, Story Line Press, Santa Cruz, 1987. 
Shadow Shadow, David R.Godine, Boston, 1986.
Tables of the Meridian, Blue Buildings Pr., Des Moines, 1982.
The Love & Death Boy, W.D. Hoffstadt & Sons, Syracuse, 1981.
The Vermont Suicides, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1978.
Ethan Benjamin Boldt, Alfred A Knopf, New York, 1975.
What Are Birds Worth, The Cummington Press, Omaha, 1975.

Journals and Magazines—Poetry: 

Including: Numero Cinq, Nine Nile Magazine, Interpoezia, Poetry, APR, Poetry East, Ploughshares, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, Crazy Horse, The Michigan Quarterly, The North American Review, The Antioch Review, The Iowa Review, Shenandoah, Poetry Australia, Poetry Miscellany, Quarterly West, Memphis State Review, The Chicago Review, The Southern Poetry Review, The Louisville Review, The Green Mountains Review, New Letters, , Antaeus, New American Review, Tendril, The Nebraska Review, Western Humanities Review, The Bloomsbury Review, The Seneca Review, The Prague Revue, 88, Barrow Street, & The San Diego Reader, Cave Wall

Journals and Magazines—Prose:

“Interview,” Interpoezia, Issue 3, Winter 2005-2006.
“Fireworks to Praise a Homemade Day: Alan Dugan’s Poems,” Spring, 1993, Poetry East. 
“Incidental Music: The Grotesque, The Romantic, and The Retrenched,” Fall, 1986. “Poetics” issue of Poetry East; reprinted Fall 1991 in The Contemporary Review.
“The Work of Beckian Fritz Goldberg,” The Seneca Review, Vol XIII, no 1, 1982-1983.
“Gabriel Boldt’s Narrative,” Rune, (Toronto) Vol 1, issue 1, Spring 1974.

Work Published in Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction Anthologies

Bringing the Bones to Life: Essays on Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction by the Faculty of the Vermont College MFA in Writing Program, 1981-2006, Edited by David Jauss, Writer’s Digest Books, December 2008.

Working Words: A Working Class & Labor Literary Reader, Edited by M.L. Liebler, Wayne State University Press, 2007. 

Open Book: Essays from the Postgraduate Writers’ Conference, Edited by Kate Fetherston and Roger Weingarten, Cambridge Scholars Press, April 2007.

Local Nimanui: Antology de Poezie Americana Contemporania, Edited by Carmen Firan, Cartea Romaneasca, New York, 2006.

Manthology: Poems on the Male Experience, Edited by Craig Crist-Evans, Kate Fetherston and Roger Weingarten, University of Iowa Press, 2006.

New American Poets, Edited by Jack Myers and Roger Weingarten, David R. Godine, 2005

Visiting Frost: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Robert Frost, Edited by Thom Tammaro & Sheila Coghill, University of Iowa Press, 2005.

Are You Experienced: Baby Boom Poets at Midlife, Edited by Pamela Gemin, University of Iowa Press, 2003.

Chokecherries 2002-03: A SOMOS Anthology, SOMOS, Taos, New Mexico, 2003. 

Poets of the New Century, Edited by Richard Higgerson and Roger Weingarten, David R. Godine, Boston, 2001.

Ghost Writing: Haunted Tales by Contemporary Writers, Edited by Roger Weingarten, Invisible Cities Press, Montpelier, 2001, 2000.

The Fourth Genre: Contemporary Writers of/on Creative Non- Fiction, Edited by Michael Steinberg, Allyn & Bacon, 1998.

Over This Soil: An Anthology of World Farm Poems, Edited by Catherine Marconi, University of Iowa Press, 1998.         

The Prairie Schooner Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Writing, Edited by Hilda Raz, Bison Books, 1997.

Anthology of Magazine Verse, Monitor Books., Los Angeles, 1996, 1988, 1980        

Place of the Long River, Edited by Jim Lee, Blue Moon Press, Hartford, Connecticut, 1996.    

Pushcart Prize XVIII: Best of the Small Presses, Edited by Bill Henderson, Pushcart Press, Wainscott, New York, 1993-94.

The Practice of Poetry, Edited by Chase Twichell and Robin Behn, HarperCollins, Fall, 1992.

Handspan of Red Earth: American Farm Poetry, Edited by Catherine Marconi, University. of Iowa Press, 1991.

New American Poets of the‘90s, Edited by Jack Myers and Roger Weingarten, David R. Godine, Boston, 1991. 

Passages North Anthology, Edited by Elinor Benedict, Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis, 1990.

Roth’s American Poetry Annual, Roth Publishing., New York, 1989.

A Garland for Harry Duncan, Edited by Tom Taylor, Taylor Press, Austin, Texas, 1989.

Contemporary New England Poetry, Edited by Paul Ruffin,Texas Review Press, Huntsville, Texas, 1987.

Light Year ‘86, Bits Press, Edited by Robert Wallace, Cleveland, Ohio, 1986

Light Year ‘85, Bits Press, Edited by Robert Wallace, Cleveland, Ohio, 1985

New American Poets of the ‘80s, Edited by Jack Myers and Roger Weingarten, Wampeter Press, Key West, 1984.

The American Poetry Anthology, Edited by Daniel Halpern, Avon Books, New York, 1976.

The Stone Wall Book of Short Fiction, Edited by Robert Coover and Kent Dixon, Stone Wall Press, Iowa City,1973.

HONORS—PRIZES, AWARDS, FELLOWSHIPS, ETC.:

Sabbatical, The Union Institute and University, June-Dec., 2008.
Premature Elegy by Firelight, Longleaf Press nominated for American Academy of Poets Lenore Marshall Prize, 2008.
Pushcart Nominations, every year since 1991.
Sabbatical, Vermont College of Norwich University., Fall, 2001; Spring, 1991.
The Louisville Review Poetry Prize, 1994.
Vermont Council on the Arts Awards: 1993, 1989, 1987, and 1975.
Pushcart Prize, 1993. Pushcart nominations every year since 1991.
Finalist, 1991 Patterson Prize for Infant Bonds of Joy
Featured Poet, Missouri Review, Volume IX, Number 2, 1991.
Dana Category I Fellowship, Norwich University, 1987-88.
Featured Writer, Green Mountains Review, Winter, 1987-88.
Work chosen for 75th Anniversary issue of Poetry, Oct./Nov., ’87.
Ingram Merrill Foundation Award in Literature, 1985.
Dana Fellowship, Norwich University, Summer, 1985.
Mss and Papers collected, Bailey-Howe Library, University of Vermont, Burlington, 1982-.
Arizona State University Research Grant, 1979.
National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, 1973-74.
Research Grant, Western Michigan University, 1972.
Luce Scholarship, University of Iowa, Spring 1968.
First student in the history of Goddard College to teach a course: Comparative Literature, Spring, 1967; Creative Writing, Fall, 1967.
Director, “Young American Poetry Series,” as a college senior, Expo 67, Montreal, Quebec. 

HONORS—EDITORIAL: 

Co-editor, Interpoezia, 2008-10; Contributing Editor since 2004.
Guest Editor, Hunger Mountain “Reincarnated Forms” Issue, Spring, 2006.
General Editor, Invisible Cities Press Poetry Series, 2001-03.
    Books published:
        Marcus Cafagna, Roman Fever;
        Bob Hicok, Animal Soul, Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award;
        Jack Myers, The Glowing River, Texas Institute of Arts Best Book of the Year;
        Maureen Seaton, Little Ice Age, National Book Award Nominee.
Contributing Editor, The Prague Revue, 1996-2000. 
Editorial Consultant for David R. Godine, Publisher between 1987 and 1994 responsible for selecting and editing six volumes of poetry and one novel:
        Mark Doty, Turtle Swan
        Alice Fulton, Powers of Congress
        Maura Stanton, Tales of the Supernatural;
        Mark Cox, Smoulder;
        Lynne McMahon, Devolution of the Nude;
        Richard Tillinghast, The Stonecutter’s Hand; 
        Sena Naslund, Sherlock in Love.
Guest Editor, The Seneca Review Special Issue: “Reaffirmations, Affirmations, and a Recovery,” Hobart College, 1983. 
Poetry Editor, Fiction International 14, St Lawrence University, 1983.
Guest Editor, The Scottsdale Progress Saturday Magazine “AllLiterary Issue,” April, 1980.
Guest Editor, Porch, “The Long Poem” issue, Seattle, 1977.
Guest Editor, Mississippi Review, “Freedom and Form” issue, Hattiesburg, 1977.