Just Saying

Rae Armantrout. Wesleyan, $22.95 (120p) ISBN 978-0-8195-7299-8
Armantrout’s 2010 Pulitzer (for Versed) moved her from avant-garde paragon to a much more widely—and no less deeply—admired station: this second book since then (10th overall) finds her excelling in familiar yet challenging laconic modes, alert to the hypocrisies of daily life, the stresses and fears of adulthood, and the contradictions within our own desires. “I want to explore/ the post-hope zeitgeist,” Armantrout quips, and sometimes she does: in a poem about action movies and politics, “America/ has a lucid dream,” while in a tenderly frightening poem about motherhood, flowers, cold weather and firewood, “Each baby’s soul/ is cute/ in the same way.” Where recent volumes looked at her own life, before and after a diagnosis of cancer, this one more often turns outward into the shared facts of age and death, or at the oddities of our shared culture, with its superhero movies, its silly politics, its “lovely, fanged teenagers,/ red-eyed smeared with blood.” No poet gets caustic, or self-critical, or sarcastic, as well as Armantrout, whose quick stanzas—half Twitter, half Emily Dickinson—say a lot about how language, money, love, and memory can fail us, and in very little space. This collection, in particular, might give readers still on the outside of Armantrout’s brilliance a set of new ways in. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/24/2012
Release date: 02/01/2013
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 101 pages - 978-0-8195-7521-0
Open Ebook - 120 pages - 978-0-8195-7300-1
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