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CLOUD / RIDGE by Stephen Ratcliffe

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CLOUD / RIDGE Stephen Ratcliffe BlazeVOX [books]

 Stephen Ratcliffe is in his blue or green or yellow or mauve or brick-red or phthalocyanine period. That is, the serene repetitive seriousness of the shapes and colors of his work, like that of the late style of a great painter, who’s painting the same things, day after day, week after week, month after month, year by year (book by book) until what’s depicted, though absolutely precise and completely clear (located in space without exaggeration or attitude), modulates in color, picture by picture and day by day, until it disappears into its own blended shadings, becoming everything at once–and nothing.

—Norman Fischer

I find these poems perfect in the way a cloud is perfect, or perhaps a dreamed cloud that is hyper visible and complete in itself. Line by line, day by day, Ratcliffe has created a delicate model of a specific period of time where the highly refined language is and with phenomena passing. The attention here is to such degree that the observer melts away and like Dickinson’s “The Brain—is Wider than the Sky—” there’s space for everything, including sky, thought, Lily Briscoe, cloud, Cage, grey, man, woman, etc. Cloud / Ridge is a necessary book because it reveals in its quiet way just how extraordinary existence is.

—Denise Newman

Ratcliffe’s site-based poetry channels the complex, intermeshing, and endlessly variable dimensions of place. Its calendar perpetually marks this very day. Things seen and heard through the “window” of the shifting present include weathers; birds; planets and constellations; insects, animals and plants; soundscape; shape and color; land forms; men, women and children; sentences from reading; poetics. All inheres in the music and the metaphysics of these pages—all and nothing, but the words, placed exactly so.

—Jonathan Skinner

In CLOUD/RIDGE Stephen Ratcliffe weaves concise visual and auditory notation of scattered passages of daily life—immediate local presence, sensitive observations of nature and domestic circumstance, thoughts about art and samples from reading—into a complex textured fabric that shimmers with the dual “lights” of consciousness and palpable reality. Moments of serenity illuminating each day of this limited and temporary life suggest an elusive transit of meditative dimensions beyond the temporal; the poems, with their open, relaxed way of going-on and ongoing, reflect an attitude of wonder toward nature, a receptivity to color and light, a sustaining formal control, and an intimacy with intrinsic pattern-recognition satisfactions that may be discovered in the adroit handling of fugal repetitions and variations in language.

—Tom Clark

Stephen Ratcliffe was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He is a poet and critic who has published numerous books of poetry and three books of criticism. He lives in Bolinas, CA and is the publisher of Avenue B Press. Formerly the director of the Creative Writing program at Mills College in Oakland, CA where he has been an instructor for more than 25 years, Ratcliffe continues to teach Creative Writing (poetry) and Literature (poetry, Shakespeare) courses there.

Not explicitly attached to any specific poetry “movement” or “school”, Ratcliffe has “collected influences from all (or many) different poetries". The focus of much of Ratcliffe’s recent work from the past decade is on the "long poem / book" written in consecutive days, ‘rooted’/ ‘grounded’ in the place where he lives and does his work: Bolinas.

Book Information:

· Paperback: 486 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 9781609640729

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