Wake: Poems

Overview

Throughout Bin Ramke's book of poems, certain elements recur insistently: birds and boyhood, betrayal and longings that careen between flesh and faith. Ramke refuses to distinguish between scientific and poetic approaches to knowing the world. In Wake, the poet does not pretend to offer wisdom but instead offers words, and the words are given as much freedom as possible. The title itself resonates with all its presumptive meanings: an alternative to dreaming, a ceremony binding the living to the dead, and the ...
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Overview

Throughout Bin Ramke's book of poems, certain elements recur insistently: birds and boyhood, betrayal and longings that careen between flesh and faith. Ramke refuses to distinguish between scientific and poetic approaches to knowing the world. In Wake, the poet does not pretend to offer wisdom but instead offers words, and the words are given as much freedom as possible. The title itself resonates with all its presumptive meanings: an alternative to dreaming, a ceremony binding the living to the dead, and the pattern left briefly in water by boats - handwriting as turbulence in a fluid medium. Elements of the world at large are woven into the language of these poems, resulting in a conversation among transcripts from the trial of Jeffrey Dahmer, passages from the notebooks of John James Audubon a meditation on the Book of Daniel, whole epic sentences out of Milton, and the modest observations of the struggling poet himself.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The world fleshed forth in oil paint, from Giotto to Joseph Albers, is meticulously essayed in the mixed-genre ekphraseis of Swensen's sixth full-length collection since 1984. Though the medieval and early Renaissance tableaux she focuses on are almost entirely composed in the restricted vocabulary of Christian iconography, Swensen regards them with a worldly eye, using her role as "translator" of the works--from religious past to secular present, from image to text--to explore an ethics of human immanence. Addressing herself to one in a countless string of mid-millenium representations of "the Flight into Egypt," for instance, Swensen finds "that the holy family enters not a heavenly but a very worldly world, a world just like ours except that it's not and that it can't be reached." As with the gulf between the visual and the verbal dimensions, what the mind posits as an inviolable border ("it can't be reached"), the body is ever violating--translating, trying--in practice. In a literally unguarded moment, the intangible yields to an insatiably human craving for contact: "She touched the painting/ as soon as the guard// turned his back." This illicit gesture discloses the very essence of Swensen's project, her daring try at a communion of flesh and canvas, word and image, art and life. FYI: Try was one of three works awarded the Iowa Poetry Prize in 1998, along with Bin Ramke's Wake ($10.95 136p ISBN 0-87745-658-5) and Kathleen Peirce's The Oval Hour ($10.95 96p ISBN 0-87745-664-X).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780877456582
  • Publisher: University of Iowa Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1999
  • Series: Iowa Poetry Prize Series
  • Pages: 130
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Table of Contents

The Ruined World 1
Essay 11
A Theory of Fantasy 15
Chivalric 16
A Little Ovid Late in the Day 19
Livery of Seisin 20
Shostakovich and Kubatsky in Archangel 22
Mercy 26
Someone whispers Below in the Garden 29
Sad Stories 30
Grass Fires 31
Small Noise the Weather Makes 33
Body Parts (1968) 36
& the War in France 38
Another Lean, Unwashed Artificer 39
A History of His Heart 40
Pretty Words, Parabolas 45
Enter Celia, with a Writing 46
A Great Noise the World Makes 48
A History of Tenderness 59
For I Have Already Been Once ... 74
And the Light Never Waned in the Same Way Twice 77
How Light Is Spent 83
Toying 85
Toy Houses in the Landscape 87
Crisis 90
Famous Poems of the Past Explained 92
Testimony 94
Notes 113
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