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Publish Year note: First published January 30th 2009
Rae Armantrout has always organized her collections of poetry as though they were works in themselves. Versed brings two of these sequences together, offering readers an expanded view of the arc of her writing.
The poems in the first section, Versed, play with vice and versa, the perversity of human consciousness. They flirt with error and delusion, skating on a thin ice that inevitably cracks: "Metaphor forms / a crust / beneath which / the crevasse of each experience." Dark Matter, the second section, alludes to more than the unseen substance thought to make up the majority of mass in the universe.
The invisible and unknowable are confronted directly as Armantrout's experience with cancer marks these poems with a new austerity, shot through with her signature wit and stark unsentimental thinking. Together, the poems of Versed part us from our assumptions about reality, revealing the gaps and fissures in our emotional and linguistic constructs, showing us ourselves where we are most exposed.
A reader's companion is available at ersedreader.site.wesleyan.edu
Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (2010)
swipe at you. * How are we deﬁning “dream?” An exaggerated sense of the relevance of these details, of “facts” as presented? A peculiar reluctance to ask presented by whom and in what space? * By space we mean the collapsible 51 whirligig of attention, the ﬁguring and reconﬁguring of charges among orbits (obits) that has taken forever 52 The Catch Cirrus fringes ring the horizon. “Where two or more are gathered . . .” Name, name, name. * They will be — are — together still somewhere in
“ﬁeld of vision . .” * On closed eyes I see the spartan wall of the ICU covered in a scrambled hodge-podge of sticky notes, crossing one another at all angles, illegibly written over, snippets of reference, madly irrelevant. * Symbolism as the party face of paranoia. Chorus of expert voices beyond my door, forever dissecting my case. “But the part is sick of representing the whole.” * “We will prevail,” says the leader on multiple screens. The words are empty, but he’s there inside the lie
in the shape of a man. Now, more powerful and more innocent than ever before, he attacks. h appe n ing The train halts. An engineer tells us we’re stopped because we’ve lost touch with the outside world. Things are happening ahead, but we don’t know what they are. This could represent an act of war. We stand in a ﬁeld, no longer passengers. 88 Missing Persons God and Mother went the same way. * What’s a person to us but a contortion of pressure ridges palpable long after she is gone? * A thin
New Yorker, The New Review, No, Origin (online), Pequod, Poetry, Tin House, War and Peace: the Future, 26. I acknowledge, with thanks, the support of the Guggenheim Foundation and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts for the fellowships I received while ﬁnishing this book. ix This page intentionally left blank FUbcUT This page intentionally left blank Results 1 Click here to vote on who’s ripe for a makeover or takeover in this series pilot. Votes are registered at the server and sent
course, the screen freezes. We try joking with the burglars about the telecomm system. They laugh menacingly. On the busy, patterned carpet, one empty shoe nuzzles its twin. 95 Left Shriveled hedge ﬂowers cast elaborate shadows on the broad, bright, sharp gladiola leaves now? If an instant is a measure of endurance, what is the distance from expectancy to spider? To get a small constant, we must wrap many ﬂuxes. So says the * Left of zero, a green colon blinks. Somewhere a man yells, “Move