Theory of Mind: New & Selected Poems

Bin Ramke, Author
Bin Ramke, Author . Omnidawn $16.95 (197p) ISBN 978-1-890650-41-4
Reviewed on: 07/20/2009
Release date: 09/01/2009
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Since winning the Yale Younger Poets Prize in 1978, Ramke has steadily released strong and strange books of poetry. He is the rare poet who seems to become more himself with each new book, rather than more like an imitation of himself. Nonetheless, perhaps due to the difficulty of much of his work, Ramke has remained a poet's poet. This much-needed and compact selection from his nine previous books serves as a helpful introduction to this poet, whose work straddles aesthetic camps one never knew shared borders—this is language poetry with a Southern twang, or experimental writing with clear, dire subject matter. From the stark clarity of his first poems (“the only horse/ we owned died on Christmas Eve”), Ramke has journeyed toward wholly original aesthetic ground on which his own often fragmentary words share the page, even the line, with passages from obscure texts, definitions, even mathematics. Yet even Ramke's oddest poems always keep a few subjects—fatherhood, knowledge of the self and the other, love, desire—at the forefront, wishing, at times, “To kiss. To move/ mouth against mouth.” And the new poems here are among Ramke's best. (Sept.)

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