Ampleforth’s Miscellany

A polyphony of tones better serves a democracy, as does a diversity of styles. Michael Karl Ritchie’s is only one cornucopia, aching for a readership of non-poets.

Purchase a copy at Amazon!



Poetry For Non-Poets

on May 17, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ampleforth’s Miscellany is ingenious. The title refers to the character Ampleforth from George Orwell’s 1984, a “mild, ineffectual, dreamy creature” assigned by The Ministry of Truth to rewrite poems, creating new versions that become mere echoes of their former selves. This reference turns out to be the key to Ampleforth Miscellany’s clever premise. Here Michael Karl Ritchie takes on the task of remembering old, often obscure films he’d seen during his time working in the media department of the downtown Public Library of Cincinnati, Ohio and film-by-film writing poetry about them. But there’s a catch. Since they’re based on his memories, some are merely half-remembered, while others are so long-forgotten that they’re practically fiction. Ritchie begins each poem as if it were just another entry to be filed away in the library’s media collection, writing a short synopsis for the film as he remembers/misremembers it and then presenting a poem inspired by it. Anyone who has read Ritchie’s blog THE SPACESHIP, wherein he regularly writes poetry about films, should know what to expect here: a meditation on themes from movies distilled into verse that astounds with lyrical acrobatics both playful and profound. But the difference here is that there’s also a guessing game at play. Which movies are real? Which are not? And how much so? Some of the films, such as Frankenstein or Naked Lunch, we know exist, but what about Big Day in Bogo? Or The Grammar God? Since many of the poems are based on obscure educational shorts from the 50s and 60s, who’s to say? In this way, Ampleforth’s Miscellany is timely yet timeless with a dreamlike quality that makes it seem as if the book both is and is not of this world, one foot set in modern day America, the other seemingly in some nameless dystopia, the line between the two blurring page-by-page until one echoes the other, just another of Ampleforth’s entries.

5.0 out of 5 stars Ampleforth’s Miscellany

on May 24, 2017
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
The back cover of Ampleforth’s Miscellany calls this collection “a polyphony of tones,” and that is a perfect description for these poems. There are free verse poems, sonnets, villanelles, and a variety of other subtle forms, often sneaking up on the reader only in the closing lines. The sound of the poems is likewise varied, switching from blues poems to jazz sounds to the discordant guitars of Frank Zappa. For the uninitiated, this collection is an excellent introduction to the possibilities that contemporary poetry offers. For the experienced reader of poetry, Ampleforth’s Miscellany is a catalogue of terrors and wonders that invites repeated readings.

5.0 out of 5 stars Ampleforth’s Miscellany

 on May 20, 2017
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
A surreal journey into America. Eerie and sardonic.

Ampleforth’s Miscellany Reading October 5th 2017 at Arkansas Tech University: