June 15, 2010

Ralph Angel

Ralph Angel [USA]

Ralph Angel is a second-generation American from Seattle. He attended inner-city public schools there, and, while working freight trains for the Union Pacific Railroad, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Washington. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of California, Irvine, and has lived in and around Los Angeles ever since. Since his early college days, he has traveled extensively in Europe, North Africa, and Central and South America. He is currently Edith R. White Chair of English and Creative Writing at the University of Redlands, and is a member of the M.F.A. in Creative Writing faculty at Vermont College.

His first collection, Anxious Latitudes (1986), was widely praised and reviewed. And his second, Neither World (1995), which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets, garnered him national prominence. A third book, Twice Removed (2001), was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Awards, and was a finalist for the Washington State Book Awards. His most recent literary awards include a gift from the Elgin Cox Trust, a Pushcart Prize, the Willis Barnstone Poetry Translation Prize for his translation of GarcĂ­a Lorca’s Poem of a Deep Song, a Fulbright Foundation fellowship, and the Bess Hokin Award of the Modern Poetry Association.
Angel’s work has been lauded for its extraordinary abstract lyricism and wry philosophical wisdom. It also has been noted that his collections differ dramatically from one another, about which he has stated: “Poetry is the language for which we have no language. Given that I have only two tools—the language in which I compose and the fact of my reality—it’s my job to find the language that enacts the fact of my reality. If my poems have changed and evolved over the years, they are testimony to how my life and orientation to language have changed and evolved. It’s my job to make absolute presence possible.”


Anxious Latitudes (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1986); Neither World (Oxford, Ohio: Miami University Press, 1995); Twice Removed (Louisville, Kentucky: Sarabande Books, 2001); Exceptions and Melancholies: Poems 1986-2006 (Louisville, Kentucky: Sarabande Books, 2006)

Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English


for Betty Ong

Something stayed in the mind there.
The most credulous birds. An indifferent
that future is ashes
and a kiss on the cheek. This cup
of coffee goes down like chocolate. A footbridge
the eye leaves among cliff sides
of steam.

There is no shame
in failure. No lost
or blue unfurling courtyard. You are transparent,
in the basement,
by way of all exits.

Reprinted from The New Review of Literature, II, number 2 (April 2005). Copyright ©2005
by Ralph Angel.

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