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Mallarmé: Poem in Prose
Santa Barbara Review Publications, 1998

In Stephen Ratcliffe's Mallarmé: Poem in Prose, sound is the equivalent of content, of "meaning as the mental picture...from one place to another" in the collection or sequence of poems. This equivalency, a form of "music on the keyboard," is "Writing that echoes itself ' where chance seems to capture the idea.'" Levels occur at the same time (are registered), (such) as the process of reading itself (the reader's ear?): "this writing an account of what it means to be writing that is reading"--which is chance and a super-imposition of Ratcliffe's writing onto Mallarmé. The parts of the sequence or any poem in it are marked by "nothing," as if a 'level' and a music at the same time: "a crowd / not to bear in mind the image / marked beautiful, nothing / so called the letter / level with a part".
--Leslie Scalapino

In line reflecting a "reading" of Mallarmé's prose poems,--a form of surrender, of seduction, of imperilment--Ratcliffe survives the risk. His poetics flourish in this dual atmosphere. They are rinsed with a surprising slow in the valiant process of relieving the Mallarméan tension, while maintaining his own arena of sensitivity.
--Barbara Guest

There is a meeting point of mind, language and Nature which here translates into connective power, structure and perception. It is all deceptively clear: in this endeavor to catch primal innocence Stephen Ratcliffe finds himself in a room full of objects and words, and a window which fuses with roses, people and memories, all contributing to a kind of (Mallarméan) desperation which--as if they were a bunch of shadows--propels poetic lines onto the pages.
--Etel Adnan