When Rae Armantrout agreed to present at the "9 Contemporary Poets Read Themselves through Modernism" three-night event (in 2000), and when she chose Emily Dickinson as the modern through whom to read, I knew I'd be in heaven--and I was. It wasn't just a stunningly good performance; I learned a great deal about Dickinson's presence in the poetic present; I also learned how distinct (yes, and distinct from Dickinson) Rae Armantrout is. If Dickinson is my favorite poet to teach, I think Armantrout is the second. Not to say it's easy to teach her poems, but everyone--students and I alike--feel rewarded by the effort. Here's the link to the RealAudio recording of that performance. If readers of this blog have not read or heard Armantrout's poems, may I suggest one for starters? It's a poem called "The Way", most recently published in Veil. Listen to the poem but also hear the poet talk about it in her May 2006 conversation with Charles Bernstein: click here for the segment on "The Way."
See a later entry for link to and description of a PENNsound podcast that includes a reference to "The Way" and Armantrout's discussion with Bernstein about the poem.