Reading: Dusk by Rae Armantrout

Rae Armantrout (b. 1947) is one of the founding members of the West Coast group of Language poets (language poetry: started in the 1970s; language dictates meaning; reader participates in constructing meaning) . Her poetry is characterized by the clashes of the elements they are composed of. She has said that she is seeking to balance assertion and doubt in her poetics. I read a short poem that is indicative of her style. If you like it, continue with a longer poem like ‘Natural History‘.

Dusk
spider on the cold expanse
of glass, three stories high
rests intently
and so purely alone.

I’m not like that!

I am looking at the spider from the inside of a building. At least, that is what the context of three stories high suggests (and according to language poetry, meaning is a flow of contexts). Resting intently (with eager attention) would not be resting for us mammals and predators. We are never ‘purely alone’. We live in expectation of each other’s actions.

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