Several Gravities by Keith Waldrop

A selection of collages from the new book published by the independent Siglio Press.

The first public showing of poet Keith Waldrop's collages of cardboard and paper, occasionally cloth or wood, was in Providence in 1979. "Like the poems," Waldrop writes in a preface to Several Gravities, "these were made of materials as disparate as possible, picked because I liked their looks or, really, because they somehow called out to me."

"I have always written rather little, but endlessly revised," Waldrop writes in Several Gravities. "To the extent that I employ collage, I have the happy possibility of revising what I haven't written."

"The pictures in general are small, sometimes infinitesimally so, and are rarely larger than the small tabletop at which he works, high up in a cramped studio space under the eaves of his home," writes Robert Seydel in "Imagination's Artifacts: On the Art of Keith Waldrop," an essay included in Several Gravities.

"In my tender years, I fretted because I could neither whistle a tune nor draw a likeness," writes Waldrop. "Though I no longer fret about it, I still can't do either one. I do believe this simple inability (drawing, not the whistle) was a factor in my starting to do collage."

"In collage, opacity is the norm, defining a solid architecture through a series of abutments," writes Robert Seydel. "Certainly Waldrop employs this formal structure on occasion, but he more typically enunciates his picture through transparency. Ghostings, hauntings, veilings, falling and ascending figures, drift are central themes for Waldrop, all concerning the in-between, in part the unbeheld."

"Collage, at least as I practice it, encourages abstraction," Waldrop writes. "What might ordinarily hold a work together—character, for instance, or chronology—often loses out to foreign bodies appearing from other environments."

"They haunt us in their evocation of what has disappeared from view but not from memory," cultural critic Johanna Drucker writes of Waldrop's collages. "How vividly these fragments, exquisitly excised and recombined, proffer their microcosmic scenes and complex ambiguities."