Read Just Saying by Rae Armantrout Online


In Just Saying, improbable and even untenable speakers are briefly constituted--only to disappear. The result is part carnival, part nightmare. A television pundit's rhetoric segues into an unusual succulent with writhing maroon tongues. When the world suddenly becomes legible, is that revelation or psychosis? In this book, the voice of the Lord and/or the voice of the secIn Just Saying, improbable and even untenable speakers are briefly constituted--only to disappear. The result is part carnival, part nightmare. A television pundit's rhetoric segues into an unusual succulent with writhing maroon tongues. When the world suddenly becomes legible, is that revelation or psychosis? In this book, the voice of the Lord and/or the voice of the security state can come from anyplace. The problem of identity becomes acute. The poems in Just Saying may be imagined as chimeras, creatures that appear when old distinctions break down and elements generally kept separate combine in new ways. Here Armantrout both worries (as a dog worries a bone) and celebrates the groundless fecundity of being and of language....

Title : Just Saying
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ISBN : 9780819573001
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 120 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Just Saying Reviews

  • Matthew
    2019-05-28 02:32

    What might be saidto disport itselfalong the cinderblockin leaves.*What I writeI write insteadof ivy.*Green snoutsin evidence or -moreto the point -insolentand tense.*What might be saidto writhe professionallyas the daysnod and wink.- Just Saying, pg. 11-12Many of Armantrout's poems, particularly in Just Saying (or perhaps this particularity is limited to my recent recognition of this trend in Armantrout's writing), use "as if" in what may be considered an anti-simile. Rather than compare one thing to another to make a description more emphatic or vivid (as in the traditional simile) Armantrout uses "as if" first ("as") to compare one thing to another, and then ("as if") to remind us that one thing is not another...1He grabbed the doctor's fingerwith his eyesand he was going for a ride,whipped back and forth,for the first timelike a like aOr was this digit one of the things -but what are those -he had been sentto find?2It is one thingto say that experienceis discontinuousand anotherto say that it isimaginaryat both ends.3As if the lightat the end oftunnel visionwere the glareof the delivery roompulledfrom memory'sgrab bag;as if we'd come full circle,so to speak, throughthis timeno one was talking- Things, pg. 33-34We're all saying the same thing now,scolding the same shadow,not in harmony,but in syncor by turns.Singing that barabout the flocktaking off"as if"it were one body -as if this was one body -and who could be listening?- Midst, pg. 52"Poetry wantsto make things meanmore than they mean,"says someone,as if we knewhow much things meantand in what unitof measure.- Meant, pg. 98Counter to this technique that stresses the importance of one thing being recognized as itself and nothing else ("In dreams / things are understood // (to be) as / they appear" - Entry, pg. 36), Armantrout uses a technique that incorporates substitution first to present something recognizable, and then to reframe that recognizable object by substituting one of the words ("On screen / men discover / that their mothers / are imposters, / that their world's / unreal. // Substitution / is eerie." - Action Poems, 1, pg. 46)..."It's alright" and"It doesn't matter."Let "it" standfor nothing.- My Apocalypse, pg. 32The Alphas, The Incredibles, The X-Men,characters with freak abilitiesare being suppressed,regulated,in the name of society,until, finally,they break out, usetheir poweras the please.Now, for "ability"read wealth.- Coming Out, 1, pg. 61"There is no obstacleto appropriate typesof information processorscontinuing to processinformation."*"Process" meaning register;register meaning process.*"Or more simplythey could processinfinite amountsof informationin an unbounded future."* Process meaning separate;process meaning fuse,*Coral feather-dusterglowersof the eucalyptushang amonggray-greens.*"Which is not to saythat they would or should."- Without End, pg. 75-76

  • Antonia
    2019-06-12 06:16

    I read Just Saying quickly, but marked many pages to return to. First off, I love the title. I only wish I’d thought of it first. Just saying: What we say when we want to make a point and yet maintain a light, inoffensive tone. I feel as if Armantrout is saying “Here’s something I happened to notice. Have you noticed that? Have you been thinking the same thing? Is this perhaps something we should keep in mind?” At the same time, the title calls to mind WCW’s “This is just to say.” In both cases, the point is in saying it. We all write poems just to say, don’t we? What I love about Armantrout is that the reader is necessarily involved in the poem making. You have to read between lines, fill in the blanks, and connect the dots. Certain lines leap off the page and grab me. Others send me back to the beginning of the poem. I always feel immersed, part of the poem, as if looking around it from inside it. As if. A phrase that Armantrout uses a lot. As if the light at the end of tunnel vision were the glareof the delivery room pulledfrom memory’sgrab bag;as if we’d comefull circle,so to speak, thoughthis timeno one was talking— from “Things”I also admire the way two or more voices may be braided together in a single poem. Sometimes they are the voices of government, media, a sign in the airport, the clichés of modern life — they way they capture and play off our collective experience. And sometimes they’re internal voices arguing with, or colluding with, one another — perhaps both at once.The poems, taken together, offer a portrait of life in the 21st century, one in which we still have choices (but may not always) and yet are bewildered and stymied by them. No matter what we choose, will the result be tolerable? According to which of our many selves? The one in real time? The one who listens in on our interior monologue? Perhaps the one who knows that the sense of choice is only that: the sense of it.Serious themes, yes. But delivered with the most delightful wordplay, with all the subtleties of sound and sense we find in our best poetry. Some WCW, a little e.e., and a dash of Kay Ryan. Armantrout herself has said: “[P]oetry, at least the poetry I value, can reproduce our conflicts and fractures and yet be held together in the ghost embrace of assonance and consonance, in the echoed and echoing body of language.” (Collected Prose, Singing Horse Press, 2007)The power of language is ever present. Before I started reading Armantrout, I’d heard she was a “language poet,” and I already believed I didn’t “like” language poetry. Fortunately, I heard her read at an AWP meeting some years ago and had my little closed mind blown. Reading Armantrout makes me feel as if I’ve been going about my life in a daze. Every poem seems like a wake-up call. “What is the meaning of clarity? Armantrout asks. “Is something clear when you understand it or when it looms up, startling you?” (Collected Prose, Singing Horse Press, 2007)If we think dyingis like falling asleep,then we believe wrongly, rightlythat it’s a way of sinking intowhat happens,joining the programin process— from “Progress”Ange Mlinko has called Armantrout’s poetry incisive and chilling. I have to agree. And would add ironic, skeptical, provocative, wry, and witty. But in the end, as in the last lines of the last poem in this collection,everything’sa metaphorfor sensation.— from “Stop and Go”

  • Cooper Renner
    2019-06-12 07:02

    Over the past couple of weeks, I've rereading this, in bits--several poems every few days. This procedure doesn't, obviously, allow to get a feel for the book and how it might or might not flow as a whole, but it does renew my interest in her work and provides enjoyment once again. I would almost call these poems "light verse," not in an attempt to diminish them (I like light verse), but rather to indicate that there is an immense sense of good humor and delight in many of them, even if they deal with "serious" subjects. I find these poems much more successful than Kay Ryan's.This is my first purchase of Armantrout, though I've been thinking about her for a while. The book isn't uniformly good, of course--books of lyrics neve are--but there is a great deal to enjoy here, more than one has any right to expect. Her poems are at their best not explications or explorations of experience--as is usual--but rather embodiments of experience. They are themselves the encounter with the reader. Could I "explain" or paraphrase them, at their best? No. And that is all to the good. The weaker poems--of which there are more toward the end--perhaps make one think of Kay Ryan in some ways, but Ryan is much more mainstream, much more commentative.

  • Bj Barker
    2019-06-06 04:16

    On the whole, I think Armantrout's collection is very refreshing. The tone that carries though-out is one that I find in line with the title. The speaker often breaks from the aloof treatment of ideas common in contemporary poetry and makes blunt, unapologetic observations. The work contains an interesting voice that slants towards the scientific, but is sparsely populated with delightful breaks into daily speech. This book consists of short clips of stoicism and animism, high and low diction, and varying levels of energy that make every poem seem like an interjection among the rest. The impressive thing is how equally the topics seem to be tenderly examined among these interjections. These poems simply ask questions of life, death, status, intention, and otherwise. Very sparse on imagery and scene, a heavily conceptual work that none the less delivers. (Only a couple mythology references too, which is rare among Armantrout's company)

  • Ben G
    2019-05-28 04:32

    I intuitively love Rae Armantrout's work for twists like this, from "Instead", which leads off the book:***2.The eerie thingis that ghosts don't exist.Rowsof dear dropletshang from stripped twigsinstead.***But while I appreciate the tether to a concept, JUST SAYING is about the remove of language vs. ur-reality, and the balance of language and identity. Which is kind of the concern of every poem ever. A lot of these poems feel like they came from a bad day reading the paper, from a poet with a voice so fully-formed, the work feels effortless in the worst way. It's Armantrout on autopilot.

  • David Miller
    2019-06-23 02:26

    I think I enjoyed myself a lot more often than I understood what was going on, which is probably a good sign. I don't think reading a poem over a few times is a bad reading experience. But consequently, I'm having a difficult time articulating what this book is about. Probably it isn't about anything, but I'm not making any guarantees. In any case it is enjoyable, and fairly often comprehensible, so I think it could be worth your time.

  • World Literature Today
    2019-06-06 08:15

    "The sixty-seven poems of Just Saying tend toward short titles (often announcing a field of inquiry), short lines, and short, fragmentary sections that form (to borrow from George Oppen) discrete series, inviting the reader to consider oblique relations among parts." - Michael Leddy, Eastern Illinois UniversityThis book was reviewed in the November 2013 issue of World Literature Today. Read the full review by visiting our website:

  • Patti K
    2019-06-15 08:08

    A new collection of poems by Armantrout is always a treat. She is mostly alanguage poet and plays with words in astounding ways. Sometimes evenprofoundly. A confident, clever poet who makes puzzles the reader isurged to discover.

  • Leonard
    2019-06-09 09:10

    Latest collection of brisk, compact poems by the Pulitzer Prize winner from a couple years ago. I wasn't especially overwhelmed by her poetry, but my curiosity has been stimulated and I will read more of her work.

  • Renee
    2019-06-25 03:08

    Pulitzer winner and noted language poet. Yet to me, these poems are like psychotic ravings."Let's not rationalize taste!" (Pg 62)I am relieved to like her poems on more than I do the poems in this collection.

  • Mike Hammer
    2019-06-18 10:16

    a solid collection, some witty phrases and beautiful lines - but many of the poems just seem like incomplete observations

  • Cee Spind
    2019-06-23 04:27

    Feeling it more than the Ronk--but can't string together other than brief flashes of images why.

  • Amy
    2019-06-14 03:03

    This is simply not my style of poetry. The power, narrative, and lyricism of my favorite poets is nowhere to be found here.

  • Mette
    2019-06-21 09:04

    Very beautiful.