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Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Review: Mechanical Fireflies

Knowing the Unknown

Mechanical Fireflies, by Doug Ramspeck.
The Waywiser Press, 2011.
Review by Debrah Lechner

Doug Ramspeck has authored four books of poetry, and his first book, Black Tupelo County, won the John Ciardi Prize. As a blurb on the back of Mechanical Fireflies mentions, his voice is polished, perfected.

It is also fresh and vital. The light and shadow in this poetry, the natural world and the world that the mind delineates, are renewed in this verse. They are distinct and newly apprehended. From "Aporia":

And so the inexplicable:
the river a drop
cloth collecting moon

spillage, some un-
wrapping of night
among the hickories:

this sweet unknowing,
the shadow
that cannot tell itself

from current.
Or then a turning
and unturning,

an imagined stark divide
between inside
and outside,

as though we open
` our palms that capture
light that seeps from

our own bodies, some implicit
discipline of self-

This expressed “unknowing” defines what may not last but returns and what is found that is recognized by what has been lost. It’s a flickering revelation, difficult to seize, potent and lovely, and a pure pleasure to find presented to readers in this collection. For working poets, Mechanical Fireflies will be refreshing and inspirational. is offering three of Doug Ramspeck’s poetry collections: Mechanical Fireflies,
Black Tupelo County and Possum Nocturne. Quantities are limited.

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