Writing for the Poetry Foundation, David Woo says that Rae Armantrout’s recent book Finalists (Wesleyan 2022) “emanates the radiant astonishment of living thought.” Her 2018 book, Wobble, was a finalist for the National Book Award that year. Her other books with Wesleyan include Partly: New and Selected Poems, Just Saying, Money Shot and Versed. In 2010 Versed won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and The National Book Critics Circle Award. Retired from UC San Diego where she was professor of poetry and poetics. She is the current judge of the Yale Younger Poets Prize.
Keynote Lecture: DISQUIET
Like a living being, a poem is a delicate balance between order and disorder. It needs both. Too much order is stultifying; too much disorder is destructive. Few would disagree that our world is now awash in misinformation and in the amplification of toxic certainties. It is veering towards destruction. I won’t try to argue that poetry is an antidote for this. However, using three of my poems as examples, I will discuss poetry as a place of bounded disquiet where we open ourselves up to our doubts and questions—to the unknown—and thus, perhaps, to each other.