A double book by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Rae Armantrout
What will we call the last generation before the looming end times? With Finalists Rae Armantrout suggests one option. Brilliant and irascible, playful and intense, Armantrout nails the current moment's debris fields and super computers, its sizzling malaise and confusion, with an exemplary immensity of heart and a boundless capacity for humor. The poems in this book find (and create) beauty in midst of the ongoing crisis.
What's to like
if not contrast?
the model's sharp
cheekbones, her ample
yet precise lips.
Clean lines separating
from its opposite.
This is not
what I want
on the hypothetical
CRESCENDO • BUY IN • PASSWORD • LIONS • QUIT • PARASOL • PLAY FELLOW • CLOUD • PRONOUNS • LONELY GIRL • CONDITIONAL • FLOATING • TERMS OF SERVICE • OTHER MINDS • GREEK TO ME • STUTTER • GONE • PLAGUE YEAR • ON MELANCHOLY • CHEATING • CONTEXT (2) • US • ABSORPTION • SAYINGS • HEAT • TOO MUCH INFORMATION • LAPSE • IN RESPONSE • THINK BACK • SECOND LIFE • PANICLE • BUT • CONFOUNDING • WHICH IS WHICH • LOOSE • SWARM • COUNT • STREAMING • HELP • FINALIST • INFLUENCE • POSITION • GHOSTING • ONE THING • PYRAMID • WAIT FOR IT • POEM • THE BOOK • WHAT COUNTS • FANFIC • THESE DAYS • TOUCH • SELF-TALK • TALKING POINTS • THE MAKE UP • VISUALIZATION • GUIDED MEDITATION • POW • THE MYSTERIES • TELL IT TO THE JUDGE • WISHES • WHILE • BINGO • YOUR ATTENTION • FOND • MEETING • THE • ENDEARMENT • SPLIT
"Rae thinks in poetry by now that must be it. That one can turn out book after perfect book and it turns out they are all made of poems but what are poems made of. Rae I think. What she is."~Eileen Myles, author of For Now (Why I Write)
"I have great respect for the recalcitrance of Rae Armantrout's poetry. Every line is a twist and every twist a glimpse into a world animated by thought's incipient edges. Her sheer, often hilarious, ingenuity is an aesthetic triumph. Her social care creates a space in which life comes to life."~Charles Bernstein, author of Topsy-Turvy
"For the record, Rae Armantrout is my favourite living poet."~Nick Cave
"There are two sections, or 'books,' in this book (one called 'Finalists,' the other called 'Threat Response'), and sometimes it feels like there are two Armantrouts too. One pursues, just as she has for decades, a wonderfully spiky left-wing skepticism about capital and discourse and patriarchy and 'plastic' Another one just chases beauty But really there can be only one Armantrout, and she's all here."~Stephanie Burt, Cleveland Review of Books
"As with all poets who succeed in conjuring an idiosyncratic verisimilitude to the world as we know it, her poems bestow intimate, authentic gifts of reality on the reader..."~David Woo, Poetry Foundation
"Throughout Finalists, etymologies inflate and implode, contradict and contort, resisting motion as if they were two magnets connecting. Making new meaning of familiar references is part of this dance of contrast; pop culture grounds Armantrout's work in the contemporary world, while physics, genetics, and botany enshrine it with her exquisite L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E."~David Moscovich, Rain Taxi
"Collision, fusion, and full-blown prepositional contingency distinguish the only kind of poetry I want to read, and Rae Armantrout's is the apotheosis."~Kate Colby, Fence Digital
""In her masterly new volume, Armantrout takes a deep dive into our constant negotiation with the world, proclaiming 'I/ have a great respect/ for the recalcitrance/ of objects.' In the end, what look like aphoristic, cut-crystal fragments of verse are actually reverberant with connection: 'By pulsing,/ bars of music// make as if to reconsider.' Armantrout at her most thoughtful."~Library Journal
""Finalists is an exquisitely inorganic, made book, and the poems within it, honed, shaped objects of art. To read them closely is to investigate their signs of made-ness – the stitches and seams between her couplets and tercets – and to interrogate what poetry, as an art form, can offer its close, careful reader.""~Jane Huffman, Hopkins Review