Interview by: John Wisniewski
JW: When did you write your first poem, Rosmarie?
RW: I must have been pretty young. I only remember that I was imitating one of my sisters (who was 9 years older and wrote). I also remember that I once showed a poem to a teacher, who said: why don’t you learn something first. That stopped me for a while.
JW: Who are a few poets who were influential to you?
RW: Your “a few” makes me smile: there are so many. I’m tempted to say I’ve been influenced by everyone I’ve read, but that is of course an exaggeration. Let’s say by everyone I read who touched me deeply. This is why I’ve never had any “anxiety of influence.” If there are enough different manners, methods, tones floating around in your mind you are not in danger of imitating any one, but are forced to forge the different elements into something new.
But you want names. In my early days, Rilke. Then Emily Dickinson and Gertrude Stein. Kafka. Mallarmé and Edmond Jabès.
JW: Do you still feel inspired to write?
RW: I don’t usually call it “inspired,” but I certainly have the urge.
JW: Of all of the poets and authors that you met, are there any that really made an impression on you?
JW: Among Americans, Lyn Hejinian, Michael Palmer, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge. Among the French, Edmond Jabès, Anne-Marie Albiach, Jacques Roubaud, Claude Royet-Journoud, Emmanuel Hocquard. Among the Germans, Friederike Mayröcker, Ulf Stolterfoht, Monika RInck, Peter Waterhouse.
JW: What are you doing when not creating, Rosmarie?
RW: Let’s rephrase that as, what am I doing when not writing poetry. I say that because I translate poetry, which is also “creating,” though in a very specific way, different from writing my own work. I also (with Keith Waldrop) run Burning Deck Press. From reading the poetry manuscripts, editing, designing and typesetting the books, seeing them into print, distributing them etc.
However, recently my main occupation has become caregiver for my ill husband.
JW: Do you give advice to young poets?
RW: Not if I can help it!
JW: Do you find it difficult to write?
RW: Yes. It is a slow, difficult process of endless revisions.
JW: What lies in the future?
JW: Death. Till then, who knows?