Nebraska Center for Writers

Chimney Rock What the Critics Say
About Keith Ratzlaff


Copyright © 19
by Keith Ratzlaff

Man Under a Pear Tree is a litany of fused moments, layered like the transparencies in an encyclopedia to give us — if it's possible — new levels of reality. Keith Ratzlaff shuffles his deck of cards so that images float, fluid and intractable as time itself, and ideas are caught in the process of formation. Ratzlaff gives us context: the portrait widened to landscape in such a way that the individual is not lost, but seen in a new perspective, like the feet of the flying woman whose body must be imagined beyond the frame. Ratzlaff is most assuredly the Klee of words. We are alterable, says this poet, but he is enchanted by the magic of alteration, the illusion that reveals. I hold my breath as Houdini is lowered into the water, slowed breath becoming slower as cause and effect float in an ever-present "now." The words that come to mind are brilliant, breathtaking, death-defying, but I'll settle for saying these poems feel as real as talking to yourself. — Judith Kitchen
Man Under A Pear Tree is the sort of debut collection which we all hope for, but which is sadly rare. — David Wojahn
Reading Keith Ratzlaff's poems is like watching Charlie Chaplin on a ten speed bike or listening to Mozart in fast forward. — Robert Dana

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Nebraska Center for Writers