Rae Armantrout's most recent collection of poems focuses on the phemen of time, both as lived experience at the start of the 21st century and as a stubborn mystery confronting physicists and philosophers. The poems in this book are polyphonic: they juxtapose the discourses of science and religion, Hollywood and the occasional psychotic stranger. The title poem, which appears in Best American Poetry 2002, leads off with a sphinx asking Does a road / run its whole length / at once? / Does a creature / curve to meet / itself? Armantrout's work, with its careful syntax bordering on plain speech and meticulously scored short lines, is always struggling with the problem of consciousness, its blindspots and double-binds. The poems whirl like shifting and scattered pieces of the present moment. They attempt to make sense of our lives while ackwledging the depth of our self-deception and deception.
RAE ARMANTROUT is a professor of writing in the literature department at the University of California at San Diego, and the author of eight books of poetry, including Up to Speed (2003) and Veil: New and Selected Poems (2001).