W i n d o w
ISBN 978-1-959556-75-6 1010 pages $50.00
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On Stephen Ratcliffe
In Lines reflecting a “reading” of Mallarme’s prose poems—a form of surrender, of seduction, of imperilment—Ratcliffe survives the risk. His poetics flourish in this dual atmosphere. They are rinsed with a surprising glow in the valiant process of relieving the Mallarmean tension, while maintaining his own arena of sensitivity.
How frequent it is that we desire to wear a robe of silken strings, that adorns us as if we were kings. Stephen Ratcliffe successfully transcribes in poetry, both restive and active, the fact of things both Human and Natural
Ratcliffe’s answer to Basho, Rocks and More Rocks travel along an axis of spontaneity and formal restraint, distance and intimacy, where natural landscape becomes a landscape of the mind. It is poetry as practice, a moving meditation, that form of presence – continuous/as moments.
This year and a half of the poet's life reads like an inspired and perceptive documentary. Daily pieces are comprised of stage directions in which action, color, figures and objects emerge and disappear in the cinematic framing of a subtle drama. Inst4ude5ions on what to view in a beautifully spare but concise and timeless world.
Written as a daily practice from March of 2000 to July of 2001, REAL has a meditative intensity as it gives both the spectacular and the ordinary moments of daily life an equal attention. This is a deep, long poem, not for those addicted to the surface pleasures of the quick cut. Each section is seventeen lines and certain themes return again and again – the ocean, relations between men and women, small animals such as cats and owls, lemon yellow and various blues. This structure frames and supports the poem's celebration of intimacy with both the natural and the human world and its quiet, patient attentiveness to how luminous it all can be to those who just sit still and notice.
Stephen Ratcliffe is the author of more than twenty books of poetry, including most recently Rocks and More Rocks (Cuneiform 2020), sound of wave in channel (BlazeVOX [books], 2018), Painting (Chax Press, 2014) and Selected Days (Counterpath, 2012) which won the San Francisco State Poetry Center Book Award. He has also written three books of literary criticism, Reading the Unseen: (Offstage) Hamlet (Counterpath, 2010), Listening to Reading (SUNY Press, 2000), and Campion: On Song (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981). Publisher of Avenue B books and Emeritus Professor at Mills College, he has lived in Bolinas California since 1973.