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 Jeffery 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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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 andMar 01 1999 | Read Full Review of Wake (Iowa Poetry Prize)