Rae Armantrout, one of the founding members of the West Coast group of Language poets, stands apart from other Language poets in her lyrical voice and her commitment to the interior and the domestic. Her short-lined poems are often concerned with dismantling conventions of memory, pop culture, science, and mothering, and these unsparing interrogations are often streaked with wit. “You can hold the various elements of my poems in your mind at one time, but those elements may be hissing and spitting at one another,” notes Armantrout.
According to critic Stephen Burt, “William Carlos Williams and Emily Dickinson together taught Armantrout how to dismantle and reassemble the forms of stanzaic lyric—how to turn it inside out and backwards, how to embody large questions and apprehensions in the conjunctions of individual words, how to generate productive clashes from arrangements of small groups of phrases. From these techniques, Armantrout has become one of the most recognizable, and one of the best, poets of her generation.”
The author of several collections of widely anthologized poetry, Armantrout has also published a short memoir, True (1998). Her Collected Prose was published in 2007. A California native, Armantrout earned her BA at UC Berkeley—where she studied with Denise Levertov—and she received her MA at San Francisco State. She is a professor and director of the New Writing Series at UCSD.
“I think my poetry involves an equal counterweight of assertion and doubt,” Armantrout has written. “It’s a Cheshire poetics, one that points two ways then vanishes in the blur of what is seen and what is seeing, what can be known and what it is to know. That double-bind.”
Poems By RAE ARMANTROUT
More poems by Rae Armantrout (41 poems)
- Home Federal
- Just Saying
- Language of Love
- Lounge Area
- Missing Persons
- Natural History
- New Intelligence
- Our Nature
- Soft Money
- The Eye
- The Thinning
- The Way
- Upper World
Articles About RAE ARMANTROUT
Audio & PodcastsPoem of the Day Poem of the Day Poem of the Day Poem Talk
Grease is the Word: A Discussion of Rae Armantrout's "The Way"
Hosted by Al Filreis and featuring poets Charles Bernstein, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, and Ron Silliman.
More Than Meets the I
Rae Armantrout gets personal without the pronoun.
VideoNewsHour Poetry Series
- Out of the Financial Crisis, a New Language for Poetry Emerges
In Money Shot, poet Armantrout reacts to financial crisis in verse.
POET’S REGION U.S., Western
SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry
LIFE SPAN 1947–