[As a follow-up to Barbaric Vast & Wild, the gathering of outside & subterranean poetry that John Bloomberg-Rissman & I assembled several years ago, I’ve been giving further thought to the poetry imbedded in the lyrics of so-called popularsong as manifested in particular in the orbit of contemporary blues- and rock-derived singer-poets from Bob Dylan & Leonard Cohen through Patti Smith, Jim Carroll, & Nick Cave, among so many others.
Rae Armantrout has emerged in recent years as an essential contributor to a new and evolving American poetry, the force of the work in fulfillment of Lydia Davis’s earlier assessment: “In every line, every stanza of these brief and dense poems, Rae Armantrout’s powerful mix of scientific inquiry and social commentary, wit and strangeness, is profoundly stimulating. She changes the way one sees the world and hears language — every poem an explosion on the page in which her individuality shines through. Is the work funny? Absolutely. Moving? Yes. But beware — after reading Armantrout you will question everything, including what it means to be ‘funny’ and ‘moving.’” Previous postings on Poems & Poetics can be found here and here, as well as Marjorie Perloff’s essay “An Afterword for Rae Armantrout.” Here are four of her new poems.