Rae Armantrout

Rae_ArmantroutRae Armantrout was born in Vallejo, California, in 1947, and grew up in San Diego. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied with Denise Levertov, and a master’s degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University.

A Note on Rae Armantrout
Ilya Kaminsky

We inherit from antiquity the image of the poet as bard and storyteller—one who who sings, or sang, the narratives of the tribe, preserving the collective memory of her or his people. This is the kind of poet most literature textbooks like to open with—as if all poets emerged out of one blind man’s mouth. But there were other kinds of poets as well: those who chanted, cast spells, shrieked or whispered nonsense or fragments of words or images, making magic come into being through language. There were poets of eros (think Sappho) and poets who helped with their keening to bury the dead (think wailing songs). The western tradition, although it seems to have favored the first, bardic kind, does give us a glimpse of the other: the witches’ songs in Macbeth, Christopher Smart, Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, Mina Loy, Paul Celan, and the list goes on.

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