May 4, 2010

Rae Armantrout, 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Rae Armantrout (Vallejo, CA, 1947), author of ten books of poetry and a professor of writing at the University of California, San Diego, won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Versed, published by Wesleyan University Press.

The Pulitzer citation calls the book, which dwells on war and cancer themes, "striking for its wit and linguistic inventiveness, offering poems that are often little thought-bombs detonating in the mind long after the first reading."

Influenced by the likes of William Carlos Williams and Emily Dickinson, Armantrout is one of the founding members of the West Coast group of Language poets.

Finalists in the poetry category also included Tryst, by Angie Estes (Oberlin College Press) and Inseminating the Elephant, by Lucia Perillo (Copper Canyon Press).

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"People who want to write should read. If they want to write poetry, they should find a poet who speaks to them, and they should read everything by that poet. And then they should find another one who speaks to them and they should read everything by that poet. I don't think people do that enough these days, somehow."

rae armantrout as quoted in a transcript from the Art Beat blog at

Further reading:

Conversation: Pulitzer Prize Winner in Poetry, Rae Armantrout (PBS)

The 2010 Pulitzer Prize Winners. Poetry (

Where Every Eye's a Guard. Rae Armantrout's poetry of suspicion, by Stephen Burt (Boston Review)

‘Versed’ by Rae Armantrout: California Poet, National Recognition (Paper Cuts, NY Times)

Versed, by Rae Armantrout, Wesleyan University Press, 2009 (

Rae Armantrout at the Poetry Foundation,, Electronic Poetry Center at SUNY Buffalo, UCSD Literature Department, The New Yorker


Rae Armantrout at PennSound


Video from the 2009 National Book Awards Finalist Reading

Rae Armantrout reading from her Pulitzer Prize winning book Versed (92ndStreetY channel at YouTube)