Rosmarie Waldrop was born in Kitzingen am Main, Germany, on August 24, 1935. At the age of ten, she spent half a year acting with a traveling theater. She has studied at Würzburg, Freiburg, Aix-Marseille, and Michigan universities, earning her PhD in 1966. She has lived in the United States since 1958.
Waldrop began publishing her poetry in English in the late 1960s and, since 1968, has been co-editor and publisher of Burning Deck Press with her husband, the poet and translator Keith Waldrop. The pair met in 1954 while he was stationed in Kitzingen after the Second World War. She is now the author of more than three dozen books of poetry, fiction, and criticism, most recently her trilogy Curves to the Apple: The Reproduction of Profiles, Lawn of Excluded Middle, Reluctant Gravities (New Directions, 2006), and Dissonance (University of Alabama Press, 2005), a collection of essays.
Waldrop’s other poetry titles include Splitting Image (Zasterle, 2005); Blindsight (New Directions, 2003); Love, Like Pronouns (Omnidawn 2003); Well Well Reality (Post-Apollo Press, 1998), co-written with Keith Waldrop; Reluctant Gravities (New Directions, 1999); Split Infinites (Singing Horse Press, 1998); Another Language: Selected Poems (Talisman House, 1997); A Key Into the Language of America (New Directions, 1994); Lawn of the Excluded Middle (Tender Buttons, 1993); Peculiar Motions (Kelsey Street Press, 1990), with drawings by Jennifer Macdonald; Shorter American Memory (Paradigm Press, 1988); The Reproduction of Profiles (New Directions, 1987); Streets Enough to Welcome Snow (Station Hill, 1986); Differences for Four Hands (Singing Horse Press, 1984), later rereleased in 1999 by Paradigm Press; Nothing Has Changed (Awede, 1981); When They Have Senses (Burning Deck, 1980); The Road Is Everywhere or Stop This Body (Open Places, 1978); and The Aggressive Ways of the Casual Stranger (Random House, 1972).
In the early 1970s, Waldrop spent a year in Paris, where she met several leading avant garde French poets, including Claude Royet-Journoud, Anne-Marie Albiach, and Edmond Jabès. These writers not only influenced Waldrop’s work greatly, but also worked with her as she became one of the main translators of their work into English, with Burning Deck Press acting as a major vehicle in introducing their work to an English-language readership. Waldrop has since translated more than twenty books, including works by Paul Celan, Elke Erb, Joseph Guglielmi, Emmanuel Hocquard, Friederike Mayröcker, Jacques Roubaud, and Alain Veinstein. She received the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award for her 1993 rendering of The Book of Margins by Jabès.
About Waldrop’s work, the poet Diane Wakoski has said,
Rosmarie Waldrop writes the poetry of everyday life and asks her reader to look beyond it, not by dazzling you with spectacular images or fancy metaphors but by simply quietly invoking you to look, listen, reflect.
Waldrop’s honors include the Rhode Island Governor’s Arts Award, the PEN/Book-of-the-Month-Club Citation for Translation, a Translation Center Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in Poetry and Translation.
Waldrop has taught at Wesleyan, Tufts, and Brown universities. She currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island.