Note on Included Works

Stephen Ratcliffe

REAL, the second in a recently completed series of three books of poems -- the other two books are Portraits & Repetition and CLOUD / RIDGE -- each with 474 pages, was written between 3.17.00 and 7.1.01. The poems investigate the boundaries of the prose poem -- each poem appears to be a prose poem on the page, but since each one is 17 lines long, and pays attention to the line and line break, they are not actually prose poems but 17-line poems. Each poem has five sentences, each sentence has one comma which moves around in its position in the sentence, thus making a connection to the 5-couplet structure of Portraits & Repetition. Since I use Courier (a ‘non-proportional’ typeface in which each letter, each mark of punctuation and each space occupies the same width on the page) the right margin of each poem makes a visual ‘shape’ -- slanting across to the left, slanting to the right, etc. -- which registers on the page the sound of its acoustic shape in the air. As for content, every poem in REAL tries to write down exactly what happens in the moment of ‘ real’ (actual) perception; ie, “Underside/ of a moth’s white wings fluttering against black/ of window, man in a blue sweatshirt’s reflection/ looking out at it.”