Distance by Stephen Ratcliffe 112 pages ISBN 0-939691-00-0 $6.00
In Distance, Stephen Ratcliffe has written a series of one hundred long-lined poems using words and phrases drawn from the language of literature, science, etymology, history, geology, geography, art, as well as everyday life. Originally composed as daily "entries" during the course of a hundred consecutive days, these poems discover how suddenly the syntax of the everyday world becomes exotic, and how much subjectivity comes to inform the objective, only apparently haphazard schemes of word and world: "Even the simplest sentence, for example, throwing stones, one time devoted to one subject as if to be by a book on a table, a hat on a hook." Distance here represents the space between language and world across which attention projects the range of its precarious and constantly shifting dynamics--a space in which, as Clark Coolidge writes, "each paragraph just keeps going farther OUT, wild." The abstraction of its surfaces as fluidly textured as a canvas by de Kooning, this writing bring us to the point where thought and perception first enters a language which makes them real: "sometimes rosey, the broad flat tints of ink are parked between two celestial spheres."
". . . compressions, foreclosures, fast forwards, free fall drop shots and wide-ranging recurrances of diction and glide... The world is in [Distance], some-how, its transforming sentence action is continuous."
-- Geoff Young
There's a sense that Distance [here] means the merging of music and biology, the possible resonances between one species of matter and a totally abstract, projected kind of matter. "As if matter mattered or math became geology. This is the most interesting book I've seen in a long time."
-- Michael Davidson
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