Up to Speed (Paperback)
Rae Armantrout's most recent collection of poems focuses on the phenomenon 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 acknowledging the depth of our self-deception and deception.