Stephen Ratcliffe

Stephen Ratcliffe was born in Boston and has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since the age of four. He graduated from Burlingame High School, went to Reed College for a year and a half, then attended the University of California at Berkeley, where he got a BA in 1970 and a PhD in 1978. He also attended Stanford University on a Stegner Poetry Fellowship in 1974–75.

Ratcliffe has published more than twenty books of poetry, including New York Notes (1983), Distance (1986), [where late the sweet] BIRDS SANG (1989), spaces in the light said to be where one/ comes from (1992), Present Tense (1995), Sculpture (1996), SOUND/(system) (2002), and Conversation (2011). In the late 1990s, he began a series of ‘poems-written-in-consecutive-days’ which is still going on, and has thus far resulted in three 474-page books — Portraits & Repetition (2002), REAL (2007), and CLOUD / RIDGE (2011) — and three 1,000-page books — HUMAN / NATURE, Remarks on Color / Sound, and Temporality, all available at Editions Eclipse. Audio recordings of his work, including a fourteen-hour performance in collaboration with several Bay Area musicians of HUMAN / NATURE at UC Davis on June 8–9, 2008, and another fourteen-hour performance of Remarks on Color / Sound on May 16, 2010, at Marin Headlands Center for the Arts, can be found at his page on PennSound; his ongoing ‘daily poems’ can be found online at

Ratcliffe has also written three books of literary criticism: Campion: On Song (1981), Listening to Reading (2000), and Reading the Unseen: (Offstage) Hamlet (2010).

He has lived in Bolinas, a small town on the coast north of San Francisco, since 1973, is the publisher of Avenue B books, and has taught at Mills College in Oakland since 1984.



Books of Poetry (Print)

CLOUD / RIDGE (Buffalo, NY: BlazeVOX [books], 2011)
Conversation (Lowell, MA: Plein Air Editions, 2011)
REAL (Bolinas, CA: Avenue B, 2007)
Portraits & Repetition (Sausalito, CA: Post-Apollo Press, 2002)
SOUND / (system) (Los Angeles and Copenhagen: Green Integer, 2002)
Idea’s Mirror (Elmwood, CT: Potes & Poets Press, 1999)
Mallarmé: Poem in Prose (Santa Barbara, CA: Santa Barbara Review Publications, 1998)
Sculpture (Los Angeles: Littoral Books, 1996)
Present Tense (Great Barrington, MA: The Figures, 1995)
Private (Buffalo, NY: LEAVE Books, 1993)
spaces in the light said to be where one/ comes from (Elmwood, CT: Potes & Poets Press, 1992)
Selected Letters (Tenerife, Spain: Zasterle Press, 1992)
Five (Oakland, CA: Slim Press, 1991)
Before Photography (Oakland, CA: THE Press, 1991)
Metalmorphosis (Oakland, CA: THE Press, 1991)
Sonnets (Elmwood, CT: Potes & Poets Press, 1989)
[where late the sweet] BIRDS SANG (Oakland, CA: O Books, 1989)
Rustic Diversions (Los Angeles: Echo Park Press, 1988)
Mobile/Mobile (Los Angeles: Echo Park Press, 1987)
Distance (Bolinas, CA: Avenue B, 1986)
New York Notes (Bolinas, CA: Tombouctou, 1983)

Books of Poetry (Online)

Temporality (Editions Eclipse, 2011)
Remarks on Color / Sound (Editions Eclipse, 2011)
HUMAN / NATURE (Editions Eclipse, 2011)
CLOUD / RIDGE (ubu editions, 2007)
HUMAN / NATURE (ubu editions, 2007)

Books of Criticism

Reading the Unseen: (Offstage) Hamlet (Denver: Counterpath, 2010)
Listening to Reading (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2000)
Campion: On Song (London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981)

Book Edited (with Leslie Scalapino)

Talking in Tranquility: Interviews with Ted Berrigan (Bolinas and Oakland: Avenue B / O Books, 1991)

Publisher, Avenue B Books 

REAL, Stephen Ratcliffe (2007)
Involuntary Vision: After Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams, edited by Michael Cross (2003)
OUTSIDE, Todd Baron (1995)
Registers / (People In All), Clark Coolidge (1994)
Amblyopia, Jena Osman (1993)
Second Law, Elizabeth Willis (1993)
Linen Minus, Susan Gevirtz (1992)
News on Skis, Peter Ganick (1992)
Talking in Tranquility: Interviews with Ted Berrigan, edited by Stephen Ratcliffe and Leslie Scalapino (1991)
Post Hoc, Michael Davidson (1990)
Words n Ends from Ez, Jackson Mac Low (1989)
Among the Blacks, Raymond Roussel and Ron Padgett (1988)
Japan, Maxine Chernoff (1987)
Distance, Stephen Ratcliffe (1986)

Recordings on PennSound