Item description for Next Life (Wesleyan Poetry) by Rae Armantrout...
In her latest collection, Rae Armantrout considers the shaping effects of language in the context of new and frightening global realities. Attempting to imagine the unimaginable and see the unseen, Armantrout evokes a "next life" beyond the current, and too often degraded, one. From the new physics to mortality, Armantrout engages with the half-seen and the half-believed. These poems step into the dance of consciousness and its perennial ghost partner--"to make the world up/of provisional pairs." At a time when our world is being progressively despoiled, Armantrout has emerged as one of our most important and articulate authors. These poems push against the limit of knowledge, that event-horizon, and into the echoes and phantasms beyond, calling us to look toward the "next life" and find it where we can.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.25" Width: 6" Height: 9" Weight: 0.32 lbs.
Release Date Aug 31, 2007
ISBN 081956821X ISBN13 9780819568212
Availability 0 units.
More About Rae Armantrout
Rae Armantrout is a professor of writing and literature at the University of California, San Diego, and the author of ten books of poetry.
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Rae Armantrout, succinct mistress of line Aug 16, 2007
Rae Armantrout is a poet of intensely private language whose seeming fragments of sentences, scenes and interior recollections still read vividly, provocatively.A member of the Language group of poets whose other members include Ron Silliman, Bob Perleman and Lynn Hejinian among other notables, she has distinguished herself from the frequently discursive style that interrogates the boundries between the nominal power of language and the contradictions that result when conventional meaning rubs against insoluable fact, Armantrout's poetry is brief, terser, more taciturn and pared to the essential terms and the sensations they conflate. More autobiographical, perhaps, more concerned with raising a sense of genuine autonomy from the words one employs to define direction and purpose, Armantrout's poetry is an on going inquiry about what lies beyond our expectations once they've been given the lie. As in this fine collection's title,what is the "Next Life"? What she leaves out is fully formed by its absence.
We wake up to an empty room addressing itself in scare quotes.
"Happen" and "now" have been smuggled out,
to arrive safely in the past tense.
We come home to a cat made entirely of fish. --"Reversible"
Where a good many poets lavish their subjects with an overflow of language that twists and turns and deliberately problematizes syntax to achieve effects that are more stunts than perception or even an interrogation of an elusive notion, Armantrout's poetry is strong, stoic, lean to the degree that what remains are the resonances of a personality witnessing the truth when internal idealism and material fact don't compliment each other. Armantrout's poetry is a cool voice intoning over the varied scraps and arcana of experience, and crisply discovers, underlines and speaks with a curt irony. There are things we've said we were, there are the things we've become, and there are the words we first used to make our declarations asserted again, though mutated, altered, given a few shades of new meaning to meet the demands of a life that becomes more complicated with small, distracting matters. There's a blunted, occasionally jagged feeling to Armantrout's lines, a cadence that will alternate between the hard, acute image, the half-uttered phrases that seem like mumbles, and the juxtapositions of word and deed that expose a archeology of deferred emotion.
Next Apr 28, 2007
In the poems of NEXT LIFE, the natural world is taking a beating, not only from the rival attractions of the cinema and TV, but from the haste with which we have catapulted earth's slide into eco-catastrophe. From the very first poem, "Tease," to the last, we see the natural order made to feel second-rate, flowers turn into wallflowers. In "Tease," bare trees must be supplemented by their imagined resemblance to human skeletons to earn a place in the "provisional parts" of the world, while the poem works up a keen interest in a serial killer rapist movie--the eternal pair of cop versus serial killer. By the second poem, "Line," the speaker can no longer recall the origins of the term "rooting around."
Armantrout asserts that "Narrative prepares me/ to see/ whatever I see next," for one is always anticipating oneself, like the fellow Nicolas Cage plays in the new film NEXT--he can see everything two minutes into the future, thus it's hard to surprise him. In his case precognition itself foregrounds narrative's numinousness, to "produce a continuous present," as the poet reminds us in "As (2)." Three birds show up to stage a "framing gesture,/ / an inclusive sweep."
I have admired her writing for nearly 25 years, and last week I went to see her read from some of the poems in NEXT LIFE as she spoke on a bookstore panel here in San Francisco on "The Future of Poetry." It was the perfect topic for the theorist of NEXT LIFE, in which poetry's next two minutes seem always only as far away as the reach of one's hand. And she has a beautiful speaking voice too, her vowels pleasantly striated. If only I could have that voice of the operator eliminated from my phone system and have Rae Armantrout tell me that when I hear the tone, the time will be 10:49 a.m. and fifty seconds.
In the meantime her new book gives us flashes of another world, the chazzerai of this one, and I find it telling that so much of it comes from an attempted rehabilitation of the flora and fauna that, dried and etiolated, we are losing every day. "Dry, white frazzle/ in a blue vase" (cf Marlon Brando in A DRY WHITE SEASON) "beautiful--/ / a frozen swarm/ of incommensurate wishes." ["Close."]