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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)

A Map of My Lesser Years

We wrote of the facefulls of wind
which would gnaw

the space
which wind fills readily again

space is not place but
is the possibility:

a twig in the sand then
crayon on rough paper

later with blue school ink
through a Parker medium nib

on lined paper I drew rockets
clipper ships, small whales

and large dogs smiling. And
windows against wind

the wind a group of lines leaning
against trees. A shape of trees.

From Light Wind Light Light (Omnidawn, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Bin Ramke. Used with the permission of Omnidawn Publishing.

From Light Wind Light Light (Omnidawn, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Bin Ramke. Used with the permission of Omnidawn Publishing.

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

poem

wings of angels rustle in Latin
says Zbigniew Herbert

I recall so little (amo amas
amat
) the little so broken I
sauntered soundless
down paths in the park

I heard a policeman speak
in fragments from above

from a helicopter I understood

poem
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
poem

as in purpose; the purple of the hillside
enrolled me in its misery, mysterious mist
emanating.

             When it was over the day
descended in the form of a star, ours,
which is to say the dark returned

which is to say a measure of darkness inter
posed