Rae Armantrout

Rae Armantrout’s collection Versed won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She taught for more than twenty years at the University of California, San Diego.

Poem: ‘Fortune’

Rae Armantrout, 24 February 2022


It could have started like this.My mother took me to fabric shops when I was a kid.I would wander through the tall bolts dazed, readingfortunes in the colours.


Whitepapier-mâchéof the mock-orange floweron its many stems.

Lavender, as an afterthought, necrotic –carried interest.

Ochrelike sunset in LA,like dehydration.

The popular mauve-greywhich blendsindifference with...

Poem: ‘Too Much Information’

Rae Armantrout, 22 April 2021



the backwards-facing S,a decoration in the iron rail,was here when I came,with its extra curlicuesat each end,and a miniatureversion of itselflike a foetusaffixed to its middle.

I’m telling you more, perhaps,than you need to know.

The sun on...

Two Poems

Rae Armantrout, 8 October 2020


Nothing to see here.

Pine cones litterthe gutters.

Whose turn is itto blow on the mirror,mama?


Each pushes forwardin her wild eagernessto take partin a ritual.

‘Is this that thingabout fireflies?’



We use similes to showthings are connected –

and they are,just not in the ways we say.


A hole in fresh dirtsurrounded by orange conesinto whicha crow peers,hops...

Two Poems

Rae Armantrout, 6 February 2020


Were you surprised to learnthat you could swapan ‘i’ for an eye,and ‘a’ for an apple?

That’s the lure.

Later, you maywant to pray.


You may be leftto think your wayfrom moment to moment

without being toldwhat a moment is,

if it’s something solid.


The mad hear languagespeak itselfand are humble before it.

They receive instruction.


The child in her...

Two Poems

Rae Armantrout, 4 July 2019

Value Added

The way orchid splits the difference

with hot pink, say,

in the hanging plastic crystal –

how an increased level of saturation

can come across as reticence

or even as retraction.

There, where it changes tack –

the as in the ‘come across as’ –

put your tongue on that.

‘A Child Is Being Beaten’

Sign in car window:

It’s not about us,...

Where Things Get Fuzzy: Rae Armantrout

Stephanie Burt, 30 March 2017

By​ 1979, when Rae Armantrout published her second book, The Invention of Hunger, with Lyn Hejinian’s Tuumba Press, she was already what much of the literary world would soon learn to...

Read More

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences