Nicholas Ranson, Track Made Good (Bits Press, 1977)
[originally posted 11Jun2001]
Hey, no fair. Ranson, one finds by digging through old Poet’s Market books, RAN Bits Press. So once again, the self-publishing alarms went off, and once again, I found myself at least pleasantly surprised by what I got, if not shouting to the world that there was a neglected talent out there. Much like Rose Mary Prosen, Ranson inhabits that space on the bottom rung of the ladder of poets who have actually spent time honing their craft and now write decent, if not groundbreaking, stuff:
The weather’s clear this evening over Scotland—
frost, no fog; bases should be open.
But the navigator’s brought a flask of soup,
razor and toothbrush in the trouser pocket.
Strapped with our familiar shadows,
conducting checks to the waving torches.
We call “Brakes on, start one: start two.”
Dials go mad in their ecstasy.
Books like this are quite good for the student of poetry, because they show what can be accomplished once the craft is honed to the point where the rules are second-nature. After that, it’s nothing but inspiration. Flashes of it appear in Ranson’s chapbook, but it never quite pulls together. ** ½