From the Publisher
"Armantrout... has been writing... poems for 30 years, at first for a West Coast cult following, now for what should be a national audience... [These] poems give... the invention, the wit and the force of a mind that contests all assumptions as much as it can."—New York Times Book Review
"Once associated with the controversial, difficult 1970s and '80s group called Language Poets, Armantrout has more recently emerged into sustained critical acclaim: this ninth book should see a breakthrough into wider attention... Now that American popular culture accommodates so much disjunction, self-reference and irony, this could be the year when more readers discover Armantrout, too."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"These poems are bravely self-conscious, as much about the writing process as the end result. This volume examines and questions the components of poetry, and appropriate maneuver for a poet hailed as one of the pioneers of Language poetry... Two of Armantrout's previous books of poetry were finalists for the PEN USA Award in Poetry. Her work has also appeared in numerous anthologies. She is a role model for future poetry rebels, insisting that poetry as an art form is as alive as ever."—Foreword
“Armantrout's lines...should be read out loud, so that the dissonance that is her genius can make its meaning heard.”—Library Journal
Once associated with the controversial, difficult 1970s and '80s group called Language Poets, Armantrout has more recently emerged into sustained critical acclaim: this ninth book (her second since the 2003 new and selected Veil) should see a breakthrough into wider attention. Armantrout's topics have not changed: emotional and philosophical skepticism; mysterious and haunting dreams-"the way sleep scrambles/ life's detritus"; the meanings and betrayals of words; and the frustrations and difficulties of communication in an all-too-consumerist culture. Nor have her instantly recognizable techniques altered much: short-lined, witty, taciturn stanzas ask why "Everything sparkles and/ then doesn't," or explore-in a poem that also describes the film Toy Story-the "gap/ ...where the soul/ was thought to live." Focused on small units-syllables, glimpses, ideas-the poems remind us how hard it is to even try to understand things for ourselves, how we can fight to resist the temptation to see society as it wants to be seen. Always smart, given to a sardonic humor, and surprisingly down-to-earth, Armantrout may confound readers who seek long, detailed stories or who want poems that give them clear hopes. Now that American popular culture accommodates so much disjunction, self-reference and irony, this could be the year when more readers discover Armantrout, too. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
In a recent National Book Critics Circle list of recommended reading from fall 2007, Armantrout's prickly and elusive work figured in the top five with heavy hitters like Robert Hass and Robert Pinsky. These spare poems have a music of their own. (LJ5/1/07)