Product Details

Word Works
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.24 inches | 0.29 pounds

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About the Author

Doug Ramspeck is the author of eight previous collections of poetry, one collection of short stories, and a novella. His most recent, Book of Years (2021), is from Cloudbank Books. Individual poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Slate, Missouri Review, and many other literary journals. His short story "Balloon" was listed as a Distinguished Story for 2018 in The Best American Short Stories.


A kind of tension pervades these poems, balanced by an under-the-surface, learned tenderness. In Blur, place is one of the memorable characters. The poems actively slip into the mystery and rhythm of boy-ness, giving us the children's roughhousing as much as the snow and riverbank. Time moves on to longing and dreams. "Decades became a bolt / on a door-sometimes latched, sometimes open." Ramspeck is sonically skilled at opening a reader to "the austerity and the gentleness of holding still."

-Lauren Camp, 2021 Tenth Gate Prize judge and author of Took House

Blur is lean, and confident, and devastating. Even as he reflects on a childhood shadowed by the threat of family violence, the poet repeatedly takes our breath away with such visions as "the lone hearse of a cloud / amid an interrogation of light." And, while "Primitive Prayers" reminds us that "Nothing is more present / than memory," nearly every poem's remembering is layered with haunting images from nature-"the funerary snow" or "something hardening into flung stone"-which lend a different key and depth than mere details could ever supply. How not to eagerly read on? How not "to study the way fireflies / keep changing their minds / about existence"?

-Ellen Doré Watson, author of pray me stay eager

The reader comes of age a hundred times in Ramspeck's poignant new book. Mythic and elegiac, he intertwines images from the natural world with familial and fraternal memories, with a haunting lyricism that hallows both past and present. "What we can't see is everywhere," he reminds us: always precise, always moving, these poems are "epistles of moonlight" from one of America's most gifted and prolific poets.

-Mark Wagenaar, author of Southern Tongues Leave Us Shining

Blur insists upon a startling intimacy between humans and nature, upon the permeability of any barrier we think distinguishes us from the earth. Hours pierce the skin; snow kisses it; prayers are owl sounds in the woods. This book tells the story of perception, mutable and urgent, of folks hoping to find in the fields, the mud, the coyote's call a language they can interpret and wield against confusion and grief. Or perhaps they merely try to locate in the violent, implacable, beautiful world that surrounds them a set of myths they can live by. Reading these poems, I'm enlisted in the search and never sorry.

-Melissa Crowe, author of Dear Terror, Dear Splendor