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Rae Armantrout

Poet, Teacher
Born Vallejo, CA, 1947
Lives in San Diego, CA

The grant helped me make the decision to take an early sabbatical. Having this free time enabled me to make good progress on my manuscript [Dark Matter]."

Rae Armantrout, January 2008

Biography

Rae Armantrout is a poet whose work is distinguished by her lyrical voice and commitment to dismantling conventions of memory, pop culture, science, and mothering. Her short-lined poems, in form and organization of words, grapple with questions of deception, apprehension, and distortion.

Armantrout's books published prior to her 2007 Grants to Artists award include Veil: New and Selected Poems (2001), The Pretext (2001), Up to Speed (2004), and Collected Prose (2007). With support from her 2007 FCA grant, Armantrout worked on “Dark Matter," the second section of her book Versed (2009). Armantrout's poems have since been included in the anthologies American Hybrid (2009), The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine, (2012), The Best of the Best American Poetry: 1988-2012 (2013), and The Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry (2013). Subsequent to her 2007 Grants to Artists award, Wesleyan University Press published Armantrout's collections of poems Just Saying in 2013 and Itself in 2015.

Versed (2009), which includes the FCA-supported Dark Matter, received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. It was also a finalist for the National Book Award. Since receiving her 2007 FCA grant, Armantrout received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2008 and was a fellow at the Rockefeller Center in Bellagio, Italy during the summer of 2014.

She received a B.A. from University of California, Berkeley in 1970 and an M.A. from San Francisco State College in 1975. She is Professor of Poetry and Poetics at the University of California, San Diego.

Artist Statement

My poetry raises questions such as, “Who speaks in us or through us?" “Whose are the voices in our heads?" “What is the self and what is another?" “What is the border between public language and individual fate?" I am interested in juxtaposing language and imagery from the realms of science, myth, dream, and popular culture to create both a crossroads and a contested space. How do we understand what we are being told? My poems investigate the uneasy relations among words, the dissonance and the resonance. I hope readers will do a double-take or experience what Charles Bernstein has called “turbulent thought."

December 2006