Perf. Arts

Local poet Rhodebeck produces fourth book



By TOM JOZWIK - Special to TimeOut 

January 30, 2014


WAUKESHA - Menomonee Falls resident Liz Rhodebeck’s new poetry chapbook - her fourth - is in the tradition of the 2013 hit comedy film “Enough Said.”

Rhodebeck’s “Here the Water is Deep,” like the Julia Louis-Dreyfus movie, focuses on love on the far side of 40. “Love Poems of a Middle-Aged Bride” is, in fact, the chapbook’s subtitle.

A chapbook is a mini-book of literature and this one contains 28 poems on approximately 30 pages. “Here the Water is Deep” is dedicated to the middle-aged author’s spouse of seven years, Duane; the lone photograph inside is a wedding picture of the Rhodebecks.

The entry “Contemplating Marriage” considers “the passage/to the broader world.” It, like its 27 counterparts, is a free verse poem rather than a rhyming one. “Lover’s Warning,” comprised of three stanzas of five lines, opens with a question (“Don’t you know?”), proceeds to metaphor (“This place is holy ground,/the heart a sacred earth”), then offers unique word combinations such as “naked-souled” and “daybreak water.”

“Seasons” starts with the observation “Three months ago it was May/and the lake water chilly.” The poem continues with “Now, I linger on this August beach/waiting for autumn to clothe myself/in the wool of your presence.” Outdoor phenomena - meadow, pond, soil, stream - are mentioned in the couplets that make up most of “Married Life,” but that poem ends with a presumably indoor “afternoon nap,” shared as “the sun calmly/recedes to the horizon.”

“Fuchsia Nightie” depicts a gown with “thin spaghetti straps (and) slit up both sides” - an ironic symbol “that all is well and whole.” Other selections mention the poet’s mother’s “cabbage rolls,/dark green pillows of comfort/which can still entice my daughter home”; employ such phrases as the alliterative “waxing and waning moon”; and evoke the Old Testament (“This burning bush/cannot consume you”).

On the back cover of Rhodebeck’s latest literary effort, fellow writers Mary Jo Balistreri and Cristina Norcross respectively contend that the book “offers wonderment that endures,” as well as “insights into the fragile nature of the heart.”

Asked to comment on “Here the Water is Deep,” Rhodebeck responded in an email, “I think my book of poems illustrates that wonderful things can happen at any age, if your heart is open to it.”

A Waukesha County resident for the last 16 years, Rhodebeck has worked as a journalist, in addition to writing poetry. Her website is

At a glance

A book launch for Liz Rhodebeck’s “Here the Water is Deep” is slated for Feb. 4 at Martha Merrell’s Books and CafŽ, 231 W. Main St., Waukesha.

An author reception with gourmet chocolates and other appetizers will run from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. The cost is $10. Call Martha Merrell’s for reservations at 547-1060.

Rhodebeck will give a free reading, open to the public, from her book at 7 p.m. At 7:30 p.m., attendees will be invited to share favorite love poems. Would-be poetry readers should contact Rhodebeck at 751-7546 or, or sign up at the bookstore.