The Ratio of Reason to Magic: New & Selected Poems by Norman Finkelstein


Drawn from nine earlier volumes—nearly forty years of poetry—The Ratio of Reason to Magic provides a rich selection of the work of Norman Finkelstein, whom Lawrence Joseph has called “a master poet writing out and out of our collective poesis.” It also includes the opening movement of Finkelstein’s new serial poem, From the Files of the Immanent Foundation. Equally attuned to the Objectivist tradition and the latter-day romanticism of the New American poetry, steeped in Kabbalah and Gnosticism, Finkelstein’s utopian vision may be seen here to its fullest extent.


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 380
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: September, 2016
  • ISBN: 978-1-939929-45-7


“Whether it be through the wandering verses of the Track trilogy, through mythic rewritings in earlier work such as Passing Over, or through the densely rich and philosophical offerings of Inside the Ghost Factory, Finkelstein is a poet ever reinventing what poetry might, and even must, do. With its musical precision and its intellectual rigor, with its exquisite ability to intertwine the force of the traditional lyric with the beautiful unexpected of the experimental, Finkelstein’s poetry stands distinctive in our poetic landscape, proffering riches that are rare and rewarding.” —Rachel Tzvia Back

“From their earliest setting out, the poems of Norman Finkelstein have fetched a new Vision, not only mapping but marking the Vision with supernal inscription, the signature of Heaven as it were. And theirs is not a cold heaven. Nothing in these poems is imposed or rehearsed. What is permanently remarkable here is that the work goes forward to imagine what no American poetry has imagined before: a society of Vision. In the later poems, we actually experience the vivid-sometimes harrowing, sometimes hallowed-exchanges that truly, truly are a nation of nothing but poetry. Finkelstein has thus honored more promises than we ever dared to own.” —Donald Revell


“inscriptions of the body on the text”

Something I know of bodies and something of texts,
how lines are inscribed and how they curve,
how they mingle freely and how they are forbidden,
how they articulate their wonted and unwonted fires.

For whom have I been writing all these years
if not for my friends in their search for bliss?
Let the poem be an embrace, a secret kiss,
though their lips may not move as they scan the page.

Let the poem be dangerous: as it comes between us,
we put our hands through it. Naked before the throne,
we must listen to all the disembodied voices
before the judgment and the search for love’s protection.

Little do I know of justice and clemency
once the power of words brought forth in power
strikes against the heart so that the body shudders,
founders upon desire, far from home.


Norman FinkelsteinNorman Finkelstein was born in New York City in 1954. He received his B.A. from Binghamton University and his Ph.D. from Emory University. He is a Professor of English at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he has lived since 1980. He has written extensively about modern American poetry and Jewish literature. In addition to nine previous volumes of poetry, Finkelstein is the author of five books of literary criticism, the most recent of which is On Mount Vision: Forms of the Sacred In Contemporary American Poetry (Iowa, 2010)

More about his work can be found at:

Additional information

Weight 32 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × 1 in