poetry takes up the relationships between fathers and sons, history and memory, literary tradition and scholarship. The figures of motion and architecture appear central to his poetics. Rudman composes in a shortened version of the American long poem (see LONG AND serial poetry), something he calls the "intermediate" poem inspired by William Blake's "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" (1790) and T. S. eliots the waste land (two important early influences). Increasingly Rudman has attempted "to transpose an American context onto Horace's Roman world" (Rudman "Notes" 201) by writing a series of Horatian palimpsests including such poems as "Against All Odds" (1999) and "In Your Own Time" (1999).
Rudman was born in New York City. He has edited the journal Pequod since 1975 and has taught at New York University since 1984. In 1987 he published By Contraries (1987), which was followed by four more
434 RUKEYSER, MURIEL
collections of poetry. Rudman is also the author of My Sister-Life (1983), a translation of Boris Pasternak and winner of the Max Hayward Award for translation (1985), Robert Lowell (1983), and Diverse Voices: Essays on Poetry and Poets (1993). Rudman's numerous honors include the Academy of American Poets Award from Columbia University (1971) and a National Book Critics Circle Award (1994).
In a 1997 interview, Rudman explains, "A poem is not just a repetition of something everyone knows, in the Ecclesiastical sense. It throws a wrench into the knowledge that preceded it" (125). Rudman particularly wrenches our knowledge of human mourning, memory, and grief. In The Nowhere Steps (1990), in which he elegizes his father, he writes briskly, "Mourning is endless." Just when it seems as if recovery is near, grief seems to return: Like a "flash of sunlight on a curb, you're back in the work of grief, overcome." Later in the volume, a child's death spurs him to reflect again on the motion of grief; unable to define it precisely, he calls it "a gap, / [that] the mind can only go around." For Rudman, mourning and grief are not simply experiences to be worked through or overcome; rather they are a constant, uncontainable, and ungraspable reminder of loss. Rudman's sounds further emphasize this endlessness, rolling across the page in a sea of words composed of the letters s and l.
In Rider (1994), Rudman asks, rhetorically, "Is there ever an end to mourning work?" Later, in The Millennium Hotel (1996), he writes, "Life is an apprenticeship in mourning," emphasizing the poetic nature of mourning itself—the work of life as Rudman has come to know it. In fact, Rudman's body of writing is itself an apprenticeship in mourning, elegizing not only his personal losses but also history and the memories that comprise it.
Was this article helpful?