Announcing “Conjure”

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“Independent, skeptical, laconic, and always lyrical, Rae Armantrout is a poet of wit and precision. … The rewards of her quicksilver verse are many: she helps, as William Blake once put it, to cleanse the doors of perception. You look anew at everyday things and delight in language’s myriad marvels and traps. You also laugh out loud.
–Brian Reed, Paris Review

“Unsettling, slippery intimations move just below the surface of Rae Armantrout’s enigmatic and unforgettable new collection of poems. For the record, Rae Armantrout is my favourite living poet.”
—Nick Cave

“How did the synthesis / cross the abyss?” A question each of us has been asking ever since we emerged from the tunnel of our mother, and one that poses itself more loudly as we near the next such channel. Rae Armantrout has always taken pleasure in uncertainties and conundrums, the tricky nuances of language and feeling. In Conjure that pleasure is matched by dread; fascination meets fear as the poet considers the emergence of new life (twin granddaughters) into an increasingly toxic world: the Amazon smolders, children are caged or die crossing rivers and oceans, and weddings make convenient targets for drone strikes. One third of all adults seem bent on killing another third, while the remainder passively watches, hoping that nobody gets too extreme. These poems explore the restless border between self and non-self. One and another tussle and blur. As Armantrout writes in “Conjure,” “In a sentimental story // there is only one / of something // one newborn, one moment…” or one place for our attention to land, while in fact there are countless species dwindling to extinction. These poems ask us to look with new eyes at what we’ve done and continue to do.

RAE ARMANTROUT is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of fifteen books of poetry. She has published ten books with Wesleyan University Press, including Entanglements, Partly, and Versed. She lives in Everett, Washington.