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About this poet

Bin Ramke was born in Port Neches, Texas, in 1947. He began writing poetry while an undergraduate at Louisiana State University, where he read the work of the Modernist poets, particularly Wallace Stevens, and took a poetry workshop with Stanley Plumly. After receiving his BA, he went on to earn an MA from the University of New Orleans and a PhD in English literature from Ohio University.

In 1978, the poet Richard Hugo selected Ramke’s first poetry collection, The Difference Between Night and Day (Yale University Press, 1978), for publication in the Yale Younger Poets Series. Ramke’s other poetry collections include Massacre of the Innocents (University of Iowa Press, 1995) and Wake (University of Iowa Press, 1998), both of which won the Iowa Poetry Prize.

In Poets & Writers Magazine, Craig Morgan Teicher describes Ramke as “a poet whose work has gotten progressively stranger and stronger. Ramke has emerged as one of the avant-garde’s treasured half-secrets.” While Ramke’s early collections are relatively autobiographical and influenced by the Texas and Louisiana landscapes, his more recent books tend to approach the same themes through the integration of fragmented quotations, history, and science.

Ramke taught at Columbus College in Georgia for several years, and he edited the University of Georgia Press’s Contemporary Poetry Series from 1984 to 2005. He holds the Lawrence C. Phipps Humanities Chair at the University of Denver, where he teaches creative writing and edits Denver Quarterly. He lives with his wife, Linda, and their son in Denver.

Selected Bibliography

Missing the Moon (Omnidawn, 2014)
Aerial (Omnidawn, 2012)
Theory of Mind: New & Selected Poems (Omnidawn, 2009)
Matter: Poems (University of Iowa Press, 2004)
Airs, Waters, Places: Poems (University of Iowa Press, 2001)
Wake (University of Iowa Press, 1999)
Massacre of the Innocents (University of Iowa Press, 1995)
The Erotic Light of Gardens (Wesleyan University Press, 1989)
The Language Student (Louisiana State University Press, 1986)
White Monkeys: Poems (University of Georgia Press, 1981)
The Difference Between Night and Day (Yale University Press, 1978)

Into Bad Weather Bounding

(After Wallace Stevens' "Of The Surface Of Things")
Colligated points, dust, ultimately a cloud, as in
an orographic cloud in Colorado cringing against
a horizon. Boundaried vision and vapor conspire 

to exhale, exalt into rain random dispersal into 
the present: I see as far as that. I never saw farther.

In sinking air, mammatus cloud a sign the storm
has passed is passing... I walk happily whenever 
or sometimes pass the last bad sign the bounded 

land, I am sad as you are doubtless. Sad said 
the bad man, somber. Otherwise say:
In my room the world is beyond 
my understanding;/ But when I walk I see 
that it consists of three or four hills 
and a cloud.

Bin Ramke

Bin Ramke is the author of Massacre of the Innocents (University of Iowa Press, 1995) and Wake (University of Iowa Press, 1998), both of which won the Iowa Poetry Prize.

by this poet


Lucretius loved Epicurus, knew
the world through him; his
meaning was clear: love as a way
of knowing, of assuming the known.

To know is to narrate.
People die trying to tell what
it was like there then. Others
die of not trying. The form of this
telling is, for
A point, a line, alignment. Lovely
the lingering lights along the shore
as the century lays itself out for observation:

hunger and the youthful indiscretion.
I am one of many, or not even one,
but am of many one who watches the waves

and allows the particulate sand its say,
say, its sound, susurrant. Of many