Saturday, February 09, 2008

Rae Armantrout: Next Life


Next Life, Rae Armantrout (Wesleyan UP, 2007)

Poems so spare & taut one is afraid at first glance they'll evaporate from the page. but then, as one finds oneself caught in the double imperative to read onward, to find out what comes next, and at the same time to read more & more slowly, so achingly slowly that the lines might as it were slow down & run backwards, the incredible strength & cunning of Armantrouts's work becomes evident: the unfailing keen eye for the quotidian detail, the steel architecture of dizzyingly precise syntax. The poems are all bones, sinews, & corded muscle, spare machines of observation & groping, musical thought.

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