Book of Years by Doug Ramspeck is the runner up for the Vern Rutsala Poetry Prize 2021. 80 pages. Ramspeck is the author of eight poetry collections, one collection of short stories, and a novella. A retired professor of English from The Ohio State University at Lima, he lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.
The poems in Doug Ramspeck’s Book of Years explore, as one carefully crafted lineation effect puts it, “the life of the unmade,” and discover “the way a cut flower adorns the temporary” and “clouds/going by like the uncut hair of the dead.” The dead, and the past they inhabit, inform the present in this collection in which everything can become “beautiful with forgetfulness.” And the living are here too, often in the form of a wife listening, with the speaker, to “the moon/interrogating the land” and to how rain can be “an illusion of speech//against the eaves.” These poems are elaborate and evocative constructs that offer insight and, more significantly, consolation, which is something we need, it might be said, now more than ever.
—George Looney, author of The Itinerate Circus: New and Selected Poems 1995-2020