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Rae Armantrout

Wesleyan Poetry Series

2015 • 112 pp. 6 x 9"

$24.95 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-7467-1

$19.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7468-8

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“The powers of brevity, observation, and sarcastic wit that took Armantrout from 1970s avant-gardist to widely imitated—and Pulitzer Prize-winning—authority are back, and as sharp as ever.”—Peter Robinson, Publishers Weekly

Deft and audacious new poems from the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet

What do “self” and “it” have in common? In Rae Armantrout’s new poems, there is no inert substance. Self and it (word and particle) are ritual and rigmarole, song-and-dance and long distance call into whatever dark matter might exist. How could a self not be selfish? Armantrout accesses the strangeness of everyday occurrence with wit, sensuality, and an eye alert to underlying trauma, as in the poem "Price Points" where a man conducts an imaginary orchestra but "gets no points for originality." In their investigations of the cosmically mundane, Armantrout’s poems use an extraordinary microscopic lens—even when she’s glancing backwards from the outer reaches of space. An online reader’s companion is available at

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Reviews / Endorsements

“Rae Armantrout’s Itself returns to familiar ground: questioning how and why language matters and can be made to matter. Yet the collection is distinct from her earlier work, taking its primary inspiration from recent developments in science and invoking especially the concept of chirality, the property of an asymmetrical object whose mirror image cannot be superimposed on itself.”—Lisa K. Perdigao, Boston Review

“The Pulitzer Prize-winning Armantrout offers poems so spare that they feel like dry leaves brushing across the page, but what's packed into them, the intensive reflection, both personal and social, is remarkable. … There's a tremendously satisfying consistency in Armantrout's recent work that's evident here, yet it also feels more personal. Important for all poetry collections”—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

“Armantrout noticeably employs the idiosyncratic avant-garde Language style: disjunctive verses that oppose the institution, the narrative, the subjective. Any characteristic, in short, of the lyric—that private and confessional expression from a lone person.”—Aisha Bhoori, The Adroit Journal

“Rae Armantrout’s version of a late modernist minimalism continues to generate stylish poems of thoughtful reflectiveness.”—Peter Robinson, Poetry Salzburg Review

“These circumspect yet audacious poems, which exemplify Armantrout’s signature cutting-edge style, mesmerize the reader with their beauty and rarefied elegance.”—Sonja James, Martinsburg Journal

“Like a prolific musician, Armantrout produces many outwardly similar works, but none of them sound much like anyone else. … in this one—which is perhaps among her best—computer science and math take the lead, allowing her to ask in what sense we are functions, rule-governed beings, or kinds of programs.”Publishers Weekly, featured in PW Picks: Books of the Week

“[I] enjoyed this collection of poems from Armantrout as much as any of her last three, including the 2010 Pulitzer-winning Versed. Built of short lines and ingenious jump cuts, the material world and human language, the poems are quick but deep, sharp but clean.”—Jonathan Sturgeon, Flavorwire

“…Armantrout serves up more of her enlightening and confounding minimalist anti-lyrics. The poems’ titles set the reader off on disorienting inward journeys, in which each word, each abbreviated line considers, contradicts, and questions our experience and perception of inner and outer worlds.”—Janet St. John, Booklist

From the Book:


I work it
until sweetness

of itself,

then arcs across,
unfurling petals,

and is gone.


On television hundreds
of albino crabs
over one steam vent.


I know you’re dreaming
things I haven’t dreamed,

wouldn’t. But that’s part
of your costume

like your extra

RAE ARMANTROUT is the author of eleven previous books of poetry, including Just Saying, Money Shot, and Versed, winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award. She is a professor of writing and literature at the University of California, San Diego. This is her twelfth book.

Fri, 9 Nov 2018 09:37:39 -0500