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Joe The Ghost is one of two works Chris Ransick had completed prior to his sudden passing and posthumously published by Middle Creek Publishing at the request of Denver's independent writing and literary center Lighthouse Writers Workshop which supports the literary community through fellowships, writerships, writing studios, regular readings, youth outreach, the Book Project, The Writer's Studio visiting author series, Lit Fest, and a wealth of other resources and events on craft and the writer's life.


                                                    Praise for Joe the Ghost

In Joe the Ghost, Chris Ransick’s narrator speaks from what the Celts call the “thin place,” a world between corporeal and spirit. From his transcendent perspective, Joe fully inhabits his earthly body and its delights, yet simultaneously leaves them far behind. “Everyone is dying but only some / also live,” he tells us—a wisdom borne of both the poet’s tender care and brilliant craft. This is a soaring collection, the work of a master who left us at the pinnacle of his powers. As Ransick writes, “I forgive I forgive I forgive myself for the / song I ran out of time to sing.” These poems will continue to sing long after we, too, are out of time.

—Joy Roulier Sawyer, author of Lifeguards and Tongues of Men and Angels

Chris Ransick was my good friend. I knew him in Colorado and on the Oregon coast, where we had both moved for personal reasons. I have never seen a poet grow by such leaps as Chris accomplished in the last two years of his short life, and these final books, Temporary House and Joe the Ghost, catch him at his best, darkly funny, humane, eager for life. He once told my students that poetry was the antidote to the mediocrity and dreck of ordinary life. His conversation was like that, like music, reaching into joy. I miss him terribly.

—David Mason, former Colorado Poet Laureate, author of Ludlow: A Verse Novel



Only a few strong poets—Keats comes to mind—have had the ability and courage to look their own approaching death in the eye and craft memorable work not only in spite of that fact, but also out of it. Chris Ransick belongs in this company. To have known and loved Chris makes Joe the Ghost almost unbearable, but it is also unbearably beautiful, a joyous, painful and profound meditation on the end of life and the ends of life by a poet who was taken from us, at the height of his powers, far too soon. I am grateful to have known Chris and to be haunted from this day forward by Joe the Ghost, who speaks “the necessary wisdom that always goes unheard.”

—David J. Rothman, author of My Brother’s Keeper, Colorado Book Award Finalist, former Poet Laureate of Colorado’s Western Slope, former Resident Poet of Colorado Public Radio.


Chris Ransick’s Joe the Ghost expresses the author’s direct confrontation with mortality. Death is “shrinking/ to enter his navel.” Joe the Ghost “will never be whole again.” Despite this grim reality there is a celebration of the natural world and even the process of decay, “knowledge of/ sun built the cells of everything.” One can feel the poet’s close attention and love for the world. We can see beauty and acceptance in this stunning collection. There is no heaven, no eternal
living, only singing.

—Sheryl Luna, author of Magnificent Errors, Seven, and Pity the Drowned Horses.

I do not have the words to prepare a reader for the impact of reading the soaring yet gentle farewell embodied in Chris Ransick’s poetry collection Joe the Ghost. The art that poet’s practice allows for an occasional definitive statement on leaving, but in this book, we actually get an entire collection built to pass on all the warmth and wisdom that this great poet possesses. Read this book, soon—it’s that important.


—J Diego Frey, author of Umbrellas or Else and The Year the Eggs Cracked


About The Author

Chris Ransick, Denver Poet Laureate from 2006-2010, was an award winning author of six books of poetry and fiction. He was born and raised in upstate New York and lived in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, California, and Oregon. He worked as a journalist, editor, professor, and speaker and served on his city's public library board, his state's humanities board of directors, and on the PEN Freedom to Write Committee. His first book, Never Summer, won a 2003 Colorado Book Award for Poetry. His book of short stories, A Return to Emptiness, was a 2005 Colorado Book Award for fiction finalist. His stories and poems have been presented on television, radio, and stage, including collaborations with Ballet Nouveau Colorado. He was a faculty member from 2005-2019 at Lighthouse Writers Workshop, Denver's independent creative writing school. Lighthouse awarded him the 2013 Beacon Award for Teaching Excellence. Chris held his final reading at Lighthouse Writers Workshop on September 25, 2019. His two works, Joe The Ghost and Temporary House were published posthumously by Middle Creek Publishing in 2022.

Joe the Ghost by Chris Ransick

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