Bin Ramke


Bin Ramke is the author of twelve books, most recently Earth on Earth (Omnidawn 2021). He was editor of the Denver Quarterly for twenty years and has taught at Columbus State University in Georgia, the University of Denver, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He continues to write, teach, and live in Denver.
As John Ashbery wrote of Bin Ramke: “Bin Ramke’s poetry presents itself as the product of curious research on many different topics, most particularly etymology, but with side trips to mathematics, Greek philosophy, the poetry of Rilke and Christopher Smart — just about anything, in fact.”

from Earth on Earth:

Body Parts

There are three body parts: top,
bottom, and middle.
There are seven types of fusion: cold,
warm, not, north, south, young, and old.
There are the ages of anxiety: the sixties,
twelve as a new birthday approaches,
and old, all numbers greater than mine.
The numbers of angels are engraved
thusly: first, and first, and first, and . . .
However freely we translate, the French
for seventy is rendered only one way.
The number of the stripes of the lily
is seventy. The number of a small
livable country is twelve. Or so.
To number is not to name. The past
is unnamable, and is one. The parts
of the body are beyond reckoning.
The first of the parts of the body is head.
The second is foot. Between is chaos,
which is another word for innumerable.

Joshua McKinney’s most recent collection of poems is Small Sillion (Parlor Press, 2018). He holds a PhD from the University of Denver, where he studied under Bin Ramke. He teaches poetry writing and literature at CSU Sacramento.