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Roger Greenwald

Roger Greenwald earned a BA from The City College of New York and attended the Poetry Project workshop at St. Mark’s Church In-the-Bowery. He then earned an MA and PhD at  the University of Toronto.

Greenwald is the author of two books of poems: Slow Mountain Train (Tiger Bark Press, 2015) and Connecting Flight (Williams-Wallace, 1993). Greenwald has translated numerous books of poetry, most recently Guarding the Air: Selected Poems of Gunnar Harding (Black Widow Press, 2014), which received the 2015 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Meditations on Georges de La Tour by Paal-Helge Haugen (BookThug, 2013).

Judge Bill Johnston said of Greenwald’s winning translation, Guarding the Air: Selected Poems of Gunnar Harding (Black Widow Press, 2014): “Roger Greenwald’s rendering of the selected poems of Swedish poet Gunnar Harding, is an accomplishment to be relished by any reader, and envied by any literary translator. Greenwald’s translations are superb. They read like what they are—magnificent poems in the English language. The freshness of imagery and turn of phrase are never accompanied by the awkwardness that so often marks poetry in translation—rather, they arise from the originality of the poet’s voice, which Greenwald has brilliantly captured in English.”

Greenwald has also translated two novels from the Swedish. His honors include Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Literary Awards for poetry and travel literature, and two National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowships. He lives in Toronto.



Slow Mountain Train (Tiger Bark Press, 2015)
Connecting Flight (Williams-Wallace, 1993)


Guarding the Air: Selected Poems of Gunnar Harding (Black Widow Press, 2014)
Meditations on Georges de La Tour, by Paal-Helge Haugen (BookThug, 2013)
Picture World, by Niels Frank (BookThug, 2011)
North in the World: Selected Poems of Rolf Jacobsen (University of Chicago Press, 2002)
Through Naked Branches: Selected Poems of Tarjei Vesaas. (Princeton University Press, 2000)
I Miss You, I Miss You! by Peter Pohl and Kinna Gieth (Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1999)
Did I Know You? by Rolf Jacobsen: 31 poems (Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, 1997)
Wintering with the Light, by Paal-Helge Haugen (Sun & Moon Press, 1997)
A Story about Mr. Silberstein, by Erland Josephson (Northwestern University Press, 1995)
The Time in Malmö on the Earth, by Jacques Werup (Exile Editions, 1989)
Stone Fences,by Paal-Helge Haugen, trans. with William Mishler (University of Missouri Press, 1986)
The Silence Afterwards: Selected Poems of Rolf Jacobsen (Princeton University Press, 1985)

By This Poet



On the sweated window in the hot room
where the dancers have sweated and left the floor bare,
are the black curves and spaces shadows of the hanging plant’s
trailing stems and leaves? are the black trails
only the aftermath of luminous sweat still coursing down
as host and hostess get up to dance,
or have the children been at it with their fingers
and should I write too,
and in what language? Read it in the dust
tomorrow. The bead of shining water
cuts through the watery flesh of its fellows.
The lovers dance, the wounded line the walls;
man moving body, trusting feet, arms, even belly
to the woman whose nervousness
survives invisible to him: in her short nails
and her shaded knowing that she’s trusted him fully
just because in his innocence
he does not see the magnitude of her risk.
But who cuts flesh most easily,
the one who sees how soft it is,
or the one who never guesses its fragility
so foreign is the thought of doing harm?
It’s too much to watch, and
I go into the next room and lie down on the pile of coats on the bed.
Every time I rip a page from the pad or sneeze
the cat jumps, membranes offended.
There’s a large cymbal on the wall,
Italian music is playing
and people are clapping,
and a couple comes and says I’m on their coats.
An abacus, a pipe, an old wooden tripod.
Two maps of the same country, from different times,
both old. Pictures of the kids, next to the camera.
A woman I haven’t talked to yet
is looking for her coat. “What’s your accent?”
“Spanish,” she says. “From
A thin silver belt, a thin silver belt
cuts through this life,
whose waist is only flesh, only water.


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To Spring

Dreaded season when light’s too long too soon,
winter turns to you before its work is done.
Along with snowdrops, forsythia, anemone,
along with tulips breaking out of their bulbs,
comes the long memory of the fatal spring
when I was thirty-three and my love wasn’t there,
had gone without waiting and said she’d return,
but winter’s work done, was still gone.
Absence stronger than flowers, steaming in sun,
poisoned the season, buried morbid winter
and filled imagined summer with vapors. Light,
light spring drifts in like a feather
used for torture, its touch
too much and not enough.