Airs, Waters, Places
Bin Ramke University of Iowa Press, 2001 Library of Congress PS3568.A446A68 2001 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Like the ancient medical text by Hippocrates that gives this book its title, Airs, Waters, Places looks with intensity and purpose at the elemental world to understand the possibility of an expanded notion of health in an often disconnected and disconnecting social order. In the poet's words, “To call language a nervous system might be useful: if each sentient being is analogous to cells within the organism, language is analogous to the nerves as well as the messages sent along those nerves. There is, there, if not eternity, at least delusion.” This is a book of various appetites in constant motion.
Massacre of the Innocents
Bin Ramke University of Iowa Press, 1995 Library of Congress PS3568.A446M37 1995 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Massacre of the Innocents is the work of a secular poet who admires the basic texts—the angry qualities of fairytales equally along with the humorous virtues of sacred scriptures. Speaking with the voice of mature accomplishments, Ramke's poems do not struggle for their words but release them from a near-inexhaustible source.
As Ramke has said, “Poems are like children and have minds and manners of their own, luckily beyond the control of parents and poets.” These poems talk back—and they talk to each other. By stripping away the distractions of received meaning from the words he uses, Ramke makes necessary connections between reader and poem that can freshen meaning—make it new—as is often claimed for poetry but seldom achieved so well as in his work.
Bin Ramke University of Iowa Press, 2004 Library of Congress PS3568.A446M38 2004 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Bin Ramke’s poetry has always been concerned with separating the real from the wished-for or the feared. In Matter, Ramke investigates not only the physical realities of our world but the qualities that make things important to us, that give them weight. These poems, often in the voice of a child, are full of yearning and anguish but also an appreciation for the enhanced perceptions and small pleasures to be found among the sadness. “All lost things have the same voice,” he says, and this universal voice reminds us of home and family and the simple connections of ordinary life—the things that matter.
“When I was a saint,” begins the first poem, “I did not have visions but I could see and did note the color of the world.” Matter is an examination of and a report on the world’s variable colors and possibilities for, if not sanctity, then a certain sanity, a kindness, and some form of salvation.
Bin Ramke University of Iowa Press, 1999 Library of Congress PS3568.A446W35 1999 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
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.