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Up to Speed
Rae Armantrout



Wesleyan Poetry Series

Wesleyan
2004 • 80 pp. 6 x 9 1/4"
Poetry

$15.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6698-0



Williams and Dickinson together taught Armantrout how to dismantle and reassemble the forms of stanzaic lyric... how to embody large questions and apprehensions in the... [continued in Reviews below]”—Boston Review

Corrosive new poems from a poet whose work challenges expectations.

Rae Armantrout’s most recent collection of poems focuses on the phenomenon of time, both as lived experience at the start of the 21st century and as a stubborn mystery confronting physicists and philosophers. The poems in this book are polyphonic: they juxtapose the discourses of science and religion, Hollywood and the occasional psychotic stranger. The title poem, which appears in Best American Poetry 2002, leads off with a “sphinx” asking “Does a road / run its whole length / at once? / Does a creature / curve to meet / itself?” Armantrout’s work, with its careful syntax bordering on plain speech and meticulously scored short lines, is always struggling with the problem of consciousness, its blindspots and double-binds. The poems whirl like shifting and scattered pieces of the present moment. They attempt to "make sense" of our lives while acknowledging the depth of our self-deception and deception.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“Williams and Dickinson together taught Armantrout how to dismantle and reassemble the forms of stanzaic lyric... how to embody large questions and apprehensions in the conjunctions of individual words, how to generate productive clashes from the arrangements of small groups of phrases. From these techniques, Armantrout has become one of the most recognizable, and one of the best, poets of her generation.”Boston Review

“In every line, every stanza of these brief and dense poems, Rae Armantrout’s powerful mix of scientific inquiry and social commentary, wit and strangeness, is profoundly stimulating. She changes the way one sees the world and hears language—every poem an explosion on the page in which her individuality shines through. Is the work funny? Absolutely. Moving? Yes. But beware—after reading Armantrout you will question everything, including what it means to be “funny” and “moving.” —Lydia Davis, author of Samuel Johnson is Indignant

“The poems in Armantrout’s new collection are edgy, idiosyncratic, tough, and tender.Susan Howe, author of The Midnight, Singularities, The Birth-mark

From the Book:

Streamline to intantaneous
voucher in/voucher out
system
The plot winnows.
The Sphinx
wants me to guess
Does a road
run its whole length
at once?
Does a creature
curve to meet itself
whirlette!

Covered or bupboard
breast.Real
Housekeeping's
kinesthesiac. Cans
held high
to counterbalance "won't."
It is
such agendas
whiche survive
as souls?
Vagueness is personal!
A wall of concrete bricks,
right here,
while sun surveys its grooves
and I try
"instantly" then "forever."
But the word is
way back,
show-boatin.
Ligh is "with God"
(light, the traveler).

Are you come-on
and the egress?
One who hobbles by
determinedly?
Not yet?



Author Photo

RAE ARMANTROUT is a professor of writing in the literature department at the University of California at San Diego, and the author of eight books of poetry, including Up to Speed (2003) and Veil: New and Selected Poems (2001).



Wed, 2 Aug 2017 09:04:20 -0500