Missing the Moon

Overview

Attempts to reach the moon, metaphorically and otherwise, are an ancient element of human imagination. With intrusions from mathematics and science, these poems are elegiac celebrations of various ambitions that miss the mark, but matter anyway. The poems sometimes center on events in the life of the poet or members of his family; sometimes on the geography, geology, and the histories accrued by local communities, human and otherwise; sometimes they center on historical figures reimagined—from Giacinto Scelsi to ...

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Overview

Attempts to reach the moon, metaphorically and otherwise, are an ancient element of human imagination. With intrusions from mathematics and science, these poems are elegiac celebrations of various ambitions that miss the mark, but matter anyway. The poems sometimes center on events in the life of the poet or members of his family; sometimes on the geography, geology, and the histories accrued by local communities, human and otherwise; sometimes they center on historical figures reimagined—from Giacinto Scelsi to Alan Turing. But these poems are always about boundaries and barriers, crossed sometimes, ignored at peril. They are about distances that must be travelled.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/15/2014
“Old mistakes, made often enough, become/ a kind of wisdom; go figure,” writes Ramke (Aerial) at the close of his 12th collection. Indeed, it spoils nothing to begin there, as this is a book full of wise figuring with the advantage of hindsight. Ramke combines his fascination with the language of science and mathematics with lyrical riffs on the uncertainty that attends us as beings inseparable from time and space, speaking in a voice marked by kindness and awe: “A bloom is a blessing because.” Gentle and generous, the intelligence in these poems is powerful but soft spoken: “I am aware that all things lie/ hidden within clouds of things.” Rather than clearing the clouds away in search of answers, here wisdom comes in the form of the poet’s eagerness to regard those clouds with wonder: “How wide a lake a/ single cloud might make,/ how blue a shape.” And though these poems find us “aging/ against each other,” the tenor of the collection can be seen most clearly in its consideration of the aging speaker’s connection to children and childhood, where “the child made the greenness of the time/ a function of mind in the world.” How fortunate we are, then, that Ramke’s voice reminds us “You/ are there, here, where voice/ arose in vibratory air.” (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"With intrusions from mathematics and science, these poems are elegiac celebrations of various ambitions to reach the moon."—Publishers Weekly

“The poems in Bin Ramke’s new book enact the ceaseless struggle between containment and flow, garden and river, body and time. Fascinating as moving water, these poems allow ‘particulate sand its say.’ They do what Alfred North Whitehead said literature should do: they embody what they indicate.”—Rae Armantrout, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

"Strongly influenced by the foundational literature of science and philosophy, the poems in Ramke's 11th collection offer enigmatic, haunting reflections on the unspoken principles that underlie human existence in a universe seemingly created for our personal discovery of it ("We all got chemistry sets/ for Christmas// each to mix/ futures alone/ among the elements"). If, as Ramke writes, "a poem is always an image of water," then the title's double meaning aptly characterizes the liquid interaction between language and comprehension that guides his poems into deeper, if no less mysterious, avenues of perception ("all things lie/ hidden within clouds of things"). Darkly enchanting, these meditations span a broad swath of ostensible subjects, from chemistry to theology, but always they ground themselves in the imagery of a world we know, or at least think we know. VERDICT While initial readings of Ramke's elegiac poems can appear obliquely remote, with time and contemplation they achieve "a consistency elegant of loss," coalescing into a richly internalized ecopoetics of recovery and mindful balance."—Fred Muratori, Library Journal

Library Journal
07/01/2014
Strongly influenced by the foundational literature of science and philosophy, the poems in Ramke's 11th collection offer enigmatic, haunting reflections on the unspoken principles that underlie human existence in a universe seemingly created for our personal discovery of it ("We all got chemistry sets/ for Christmas// each to mix/ futures alone/ among the elements"). If, as Ramke writes, "a poem is always an image of water," then the title's double meaning aptly characterizes the liquid interaction between language and comprehension that guides his poems into deeper, if no less mysterious, avenues of perception ("all things lie/ hidden within clouds of things"). Darkly enchanting, these meditations span a broad swath of ostensible subjects, from chemistry to theology, but always they ground themselves in the imagery of a world we know, or at least think we know. VERDICT While initial readings of Ramke's elegiac poems can appear obliquely remote, with time and contemplation they achieve "a consistency elegant of loss," coalescing into a richly internalized ecopoetics of recovery and mindful balance.—Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781632430007
  • Publisher: Omnidawn Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/7/2014
  • Pages: 120
  • Sales rank: 805,947
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

BIN RAMKE grew up in Texas and Louisiana and spent his youth in the bayous and marshes among Cajun and German-immigrant relatives. Author of over 10 books of poetry, his first book won the Yale Younger Poets Prize. He teaches at the University of Denver where he holds the Phipps Chair in English and is an Evans Professor, and where he edited the Denver Quarterly for 17 years. He teaches on occasion at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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