Intensely compassionate and consoling, this collection of poetry revolves around the concept of death, offering an appreciation for nature and humanity. Playful alliterations take shape in the cloud-laden aspects of the first section and the dry realms of severe spirituality in the second. The implied narrative behind each verse has to do with family, but especially with loss of family members and how the connections they once formed live on for good or ill. Drawing from previous careers in mathematics and literary editing, Ramke’s resulting style is one that moves readily among scientific, religious, and literary discourse and discoveries. Sharply examining the connection between what is manufactured and what is fact, the result is a tumbling sort of movement through the shadowy areas of consciousnessleaving readers with the awareness that knowledge is adventure.
Praise for Aerial…
"To address the enormity of death, Ramke has taken the route of assembling a compendium of speakers from far and recent history and from all four quarters of world: Biblical Luke, 6th century Roman Boethius, French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, Austrian avant-garde novelist Peter Handke, Newton of gravity's apple, and many others. Each contributes his or her small bit, from a sentence or two to a list torn from a larger text, leaving Ramke to build his brilliant poems around these fragments. In the end, Ramke’s mordantly succinct "Nothing left to read or reason" (a reprisal of Beckett's "Nothing left to tell") best expresses that last, and saddest, of all endings. These poems are beautiful, disquieting, deeply felt, and ultimately tragicsince Ramke, and all his stand-in speakers, keep reaching obsessively for knowledge about something they know is ultimately unfathomable." Mary Jo Bang, author, Elegy: Poems
"For decades, Bin Ramke has been America's most intelligent poet, the only one to take up the challenges of Wallace Stevens' The Rock and to take them to new places where only courage, and the music of courage, can avail. But now, in Aerial, Ramke crosses all the way over to Wisdom. I never thought to say that, sometimes, a poem is more than poetry; but of the poems in Aerial (please, gentle reader, note the pun on Ariel, Prospero's winged intelligencer) this is simply the plain sense of things. Here, Ramke withholds nothing of his gift, his nature, his mind. The playful alliterations shape an unabashed psaltery. His love for the creatures (more Nietzschean than Franciscan and thus more boldly heartbroken) offers recourse to us all, here at the end of the human experiment. And above all, his devotion to language itself, not as a medium but as a species, avows that poems may be more than we shall ever live to say. With Aerial, Bin Ramke invents a wholly new kind of hope." Donald Revell, winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from Academy of American Poets, and author of at least 11 books of poetry, two of criticism, and three of translation