Rae Armantrout

Other Minds and While
April 20, 2021 Armantrout Rae



For each word
I find fit
not alternatives.
This is what I mean
by “think.”


Is it true that for you
a berry is not
a blister
or a bead?


When I say “Mm-hmm”
like a manager
hearing a complaint,
while I crack my spine
with a deft twist,
that’s my private business.


It’s nouns that need companionship.
Alone, they get anxious–
though this isn’t true
of ‘clock”
or “truck.”


So you don’t slide sideways
between “buzz”
and “rub?”
When you see a daisy
you don’t think “pinwheel?”





The accumulated brilliance of fall
The leaves holding that brassy high note as long
The almost tender flickers
from the trees, the wires, the bottle
left out on a ledge
signal that we’re all
in this together–
while “this”
is a passing impulse
traveling through the air.


The need to mix
happiness and grief
to be everywhere.

Rae Armantrout’s most recent books, Versed, Money Shot, Just Saying, Itself, Partly: New and Selected Poems, Entanglements, (a chapbook selection of poems in conversation with physics), and Wobble were published by Wesleyan University Press. Wobble, a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award, was selected by Library Journal as one of the best poetry books of 2018. Her book Conjure was published in 2020. Her newest book, Go Figure, is forthcoming in September 2024 – all from Wesleyan. In 2010 her book Versed won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and The National Book Critics Circle Award. In 2007 Armantrout received a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation. Her poems have appeared in many anthologies and journals including Poetry,Conjunctions, Lana Turner, The Nation, The New Yorker, Bomb, Harper’s,The Paris Review, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology, The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine, several volumes of The Best American Poetry, etc. Her Paris Review interview in “The Art of Poetry” series will appear in December, 2019.  She is recently retired from UC San Diego where she was professor of poetry and poetics. She now lives in the Seattle area.