Wesleyan University Press
On Sale: February 3, 2009
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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.
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