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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)

On Paper

What does it matter—material as in
paper, scissors, rock? Matter of fact,
res facti, not matter of law; res judicata;
mater, wood, in the woods, mother; a
child draws a box, triangle, chimney,
door of paper. A poem a product
suitable for interior use—hollow,
with corrugated support; or a
writing on paper from some wasp’s nest

A game is played to determine matters
beyond law, beneath it: paper covers rock.
Words for “write” in most languages
have a violent origin—cut, scratch,
incise. A few were painterly. To write
in water. To write in sand. To make
a house of paper, a floating.
Writan, to tear, as paper, skin, cloth.

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

A boy on a horse,
a boy on a horse along a river.
Less simple—time intervenes thievish.
A boy on a horse in the rain along a river.
A picture emerges from mist—faint rain
hiding the regnant risk, arrowing rain,
boy lost on a horse in the rain along a river,
a high bluff beside

poem
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 example,
a trellis. A growth controlled
poem
(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