Life of a Poet: Rae Armantrout


>>From the Library of
Congress in Washington, D.C.>>Eli Campbell: I’m am the
Programming Coordinator here at Hill Center, and I’m
really pleased to see you all. Can I ask quickly how many of
you are here for the first time? Excellent. Well, welcome. I love to see new faces,
and I hope you check out the programming samplers
that I put on your chairs. There’s lots of great new promo about upcoming events
in December. We have some really cool things
going on here all the time. So, hopefully, we’ll
see your faces again. Before we get started, I want to thank the Capitol Hill
Community Foundation, without whom we wouldn’t be able to offer free programming
like this. They are a rock in
this neighborhood, and we are so happy to be
in partnership with them. Now, I’d like to
introduce Mr. Rob Casper. [ Applause ]>>Rob Casper: And, thanks to
everyone here, Charlotte Harper, [inaudible], and everyone
at the Hill Center for helping organize this event. Also, great thanks to
the Washington Post for their ongoing support
and to Ron Charles the head of the Washington
Post Book World who is our moderator and guide. I’ll say a little
bit more about Ron and his extraordinary
work a little bit later. Also, I just want to say, so you
know, E City Books is outside with copies of Ray’s
books for sale, should you [inaudible]
find some books, have her sign them, [inaudible]. And, Christmas is coming up. Let me tell you a little bit about the poetry
literature center at the Library of Congress. We are home to the Poet
Laureate Consultant in Poetry. The only federally funded
position for a literary artist in this country,
but we do run events like this throughout
the year now. We, at the library and the
Hill Center, but in D.C. and around the country, too. If you want to find out
more about our events, you can go to our website,
www.loc.gov/poetry. And, now, Rae Armantrout
let me introduce her to conclude our series
this year. Armantrout was born in
Vallejo, California in 1947, and grew up in San Diego. She holds degrees
from the University of California Berkeley where
she studied with Denise Levertov and San Francisco
State University. Her 12 books of poetry include
“Partly: New and Selected Poems, 2001-2015”, published in
the last year, and “Versed” which received the
2010 Pulitzer Prize and the 2009 National Book
Critics Circle Award for Poetry. Ron has all three of those books which he will reference
this evening. In 1998, she also published
a prose memoir, “True”, and her selected prose
was published in 2007. Armantrout’s other honors
include and award in poetry from the Foundation
for Contemporary Arts, two grants from the Fund
for Poetry, and fellowships from the California Arts
Council, the Rockefeller Center, and the Guggenheim Foundation. For almost 20 years, she taught
at the University of California, San Diego, and now,
Armantrout lives in Everett, Washington with her
husband Chuck. In the four years of presenting
“Life of a Poet”, I have gotten to watch Ron work his magic with over a dozen poets
including many old friends. However, Rae is the first
poet that I once interviewed who I got to see in this year’s. [inaudible] “Life of a Poet”
over dinner last night, I got to thinking about what
approach Ron would take, what topics and poems
he’d delve into, how he’d direct the
conversation, and even how he might
ask us to take a break. And, then, I realized
anew how thankful I am for his vision in
this [inaudible]. I’m also eager to see what
tonight’s conversation will teach me about Rae’s work. My interview with her nine
years ago began and ended with questions about meaning,
from a phone bill to a dream. And, I bet that by the time
Ron and Rae are finished, we may know more about and
be wonderfully mystified by what our language
does for us. Please join me in welcoming
Ron Charles [inaudible]. [ Applause ]>>Ron Charles: Ron
and Rae, huh? I like that. Thank you all for
coming, very much. It’s great to see you,
and it’s been a pleasure to read your poems.>>Rae Armantrout: Thank you.>>Ron Charles: Thank
you very much for coming. I’ve been wanting to ask you, do
poems just pop into your head? You’re laughing because
that is the opening of a satirical poem you
wrote about being interviewed by an unprepared journalist. [ Laughter ] Would you start with that poem?>>Rae Armantrout: Sure. In fact, what this person
said was actually not, “Do poems just pop
into your head,” but “Do words just
pop into your head.” And, I kind of assume that
words pop into everyone’s head. How else do we ever
say anything? So, I decided that what I would
do with this, this was right after I won the Pulitzer,
so that meant that I had to do a lot of interviews, and
some of them were, you know, the interviewers were prepared. And, sometimes, they weren’t. Like, the local paper
in San Diego came out, and it’s not a terribly
good paper. I’m sorry I just said that. Anyway. They hate me anyway. So, I got asked some questions
like this, and I decided the way to go with it when
writing a poem was just to kind of put on a voice. And, the questions are questions
that I was really asked, and the answers are
not the answers I gave. They’re kind of an alter ego
answer, a sort of, a kind of, I imagine myself as
kind of a dark persona when I’m answering
the questions. Okay. “Legacy”. “Do words just pop
into your head? Some may go unexploded. Have you thought much
about your legacy? I’m a legacy prisoner. No, I’m not. What do you call precious? The precious doesn’t get
around much, so it stays small. Or it orbits the same small
pronoun, a kid on a carousel. ‘Look at me!’ It fiddles with itself,
but I’ve got bigger things to pick up and put down.”>>Ron Charles: Nice. Thank you very much. Now, when you win a prize
like that, as you say, you do get interviewed a lot. It’s one of the times during
the year when the audience for poetry expands very large. You get interviewed on the MacNeil/Lehrer
News Hour, for instance. Right? You get interviewed
in all the newspaper. NPR calls you. The New York Times wants to
do a profile, and you have to explain poetry
to a general reader.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah.>>Ron Charles: In a way that
is sudden and maybe difficult. You’ve been associated with a group called the
Language Poets since the 1970s. That’s a particularly
unilluminating label.>>Rae Armantrout:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.>>Ron Charles: The
Language Poets. What else would they
be, after all?>>Rae Armantrout: Exactly. I’ve said that many
times myself. I think.>>Ron Charles: It’s not
as bad as New Criticism which is a useless label,
but it’s pretty bad.>>Rae Armantrout:
Modernism post-post-modernism.>>Ron Charles: Yeah, so
what are the Language Poets?>>Rae Armantrout: Well, I
can talk about what, you know, I mean, one thing I can say
is that we are, or were, a group of friends who
developed an aesthetic together when we were kids. I mean, just kids, like
Patty Smith, in our 20s. That’s one thing. We, of course, needless to say, didn’t name ourselves
The Language Poets, because who would do that? It’s stupid. [ Laughter ] But, that was something
that was a name that a magazine called
Poetry Flash came up with, and it somehow just stuck. And, finally, we just
sort of accepted it. And, part of it came from a
magazine that Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein edited
that was called Language, but it had equal signs
between all the letters in the word Language. And, so that was on, that
was in New York, and so, the poets who came to be
called The Language Poets were in either in New York
or in San Francisco. And, I was in San
Francisco at the time. And, you know, we were, we
were different, I think, in our aesthetics, the New York
side and the San Francisco side, but we were also
different as individuals. And, the problem with, you
know, group labels is they, they’re kind of homogenizing.>>Ron Charles: Right.>>Rae Armantrout: But, I
do think that, you know, I did learn from being involved
in that sort of group formation, group activity, group
thinking together, community.>>Ron Charles: It’s
something about you that would distinguish you as
a group, what would that be? How would you distinguish
yourselves from the Romantic Poets?>>Rae Armantrout:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We were definitely not romantic. I think we were coming of
age and forming in the ’70s, and it was, we were coming out of the period
of the Vietnam War.>>Ron Charles: You
were protest poets?>>Rae Armantrout: Not directly
exactly, but we were sort of dealing with the
fact of what happened to language during the
Vietnam War, the spin. You know, the, having to destroy
a village in order to save it. You know, that kind of thing.>>Ron Charles: You
were [inaudible].>>Rae Armantrout: The freedom.>>Ron Charles: The
distortion of language.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah. The Freedom Hamlets,
remember that? If you’re old enough, you know. So, I think that those
were early examples of what we now call spin, and,
yeah, distortions of language that made us both want to
be very attuned to language and also sort of want
to either unspin it or spin it in a different way. So, that’s one thing, a kind
of attitude of suspiciousness. Like, what did I just hear? How can I parse that? You know, how can I think
about what it really means and what the motivation
behind that remark might be? So, that’s one thing that we had
in common is a kind of desire that was both positive and
negative to look at language as an object, sort of.>>Ron Charles: One critic says
that “Language poetry intends for the reader to participate in creating the meaning
of the poem”. Which, I’m going
to read that again, because it doesn’t
make any sense. “Language poetry intends for
the reader to participate in the creating the
meaning of the poem.”>>Rae Armantrout: Probably
readers always do that.>>Ron Charles: That’s
what I would think. Otherwise, you wouldn’t
be conscious when you’re reading the poem. So, how did that get to be
associated with you all?>>Rae Armantrout: Well, I
think that one thing that a lot of The Language Poets did is,
and this is true of me, too.>>Ron Charles: Okay.>>Rae Armantrout:
In my own way, which is not the same
as all of their ways. But, is that units
within a poem, whether the unit is a sentence
or a stanza or a section, the units tend to be
sort of semi-autonomous. They have, they are
something in themselves, and then how they
connect with the next unit or the next sentence
is sort of oblique.>>Ron Charles: Okay.>>Rae Armantrout:
And, indirect, and I hope that there
is a relation, you know, but it’s not, there’s not a lot of walking the reader
through it.>>Ron Charles: Yeah.>>Rae Armantrout: You know.>>Ron Charles: Different
readers can come up with radically
different reactions.>>Rae Armantrout: Right. Exactly.>>Ron Charles: That would
be equally [inaudible].>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah.>>Ron Charles: Okay.>>Rae Armantrout: Well,
I don’t know what equally, but, I mean, there are. I mean, I think you
could, one could push that argument too far. I mean, I think there are
wrong ways to read poems, but there is probably a little, definitely more than
one right way.>>Ron Charles: Okay. All right. Want you to read a poem. There’s number three here. In, where am I? This is a fairly
early poem, I think. “My Problem”.>>Rae Armantrout: Okay. I guess I won’t give
this any kind of preface.>>Ron Charles: You can.>>Rae Armantrout: No. I’m going to talk
about it afterwards. “My Problem. It is my responsibility
to squeeze the present from the past by
demanding particulars. When the dog is used to
represent the inner man, I need to ask, ‘What
kind of dog is it?’ If a parasitic metaphor
grows all throughout, good! Why stop with a barnacle? A honeysuckle, thrown like an
arm around a chain-link fence, would be far more articulated,
more precisely repetitive, giving me the feeling that I can
go on like this while the woman at the next table says,
‘You smell pretty, and sends her small daughter’s
laugh, a spluttery orgasm, into my ear, though this may
not have been what you intended. It may not be a problem when I notice the way
the person shifts.” Can I hold, you want it?>>Ron Charles: Yes.>>Rae Armantrout: Okay.>>Ron Charles: [inaudible]
held a [inaudible] here. Now, “When the dog is used
to represent the inner man, I need to ask, ‘What kind of
dog is it?'” You’re demanding, you’re putting some
pressure on the language here within the poem which is
about language, right?>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah, yeah. Well, actually, you know, I,
for a long time, I taught, and some of the material in
the poem comes from things that I found myself
saying to students.>>Ron Charles: You demanded
particulars from them.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Because, you know, it’s better for a
poem to be specific. Or, I think, actually, at that
time, not that it matters, I was teaching a course called
Personal Narrative, because some of this was actually prose. But, you know, I’m
sort of making fun of symbols there, in a way. “If the dog is used to
represent the inner man.”>>Ron Charles: Yes.>>Rae Armantrout: So,
that’s turning your dog into a symbol of yourself.>>Ron Charles: Yes.>>Rae Armantrout: Which is
the way we arrogant humans are. The dog must be me. So, then, instead of saying to
the student, “Well, you know, isn’t that kind of
anthropomorphizing, sort of arrogant
and problematic?” Instead, I would say, “Well,
what kind of dog is it?” just to, you know, pour them
into technically better writing by making them be more specific. So, I’m sort of making fun
of my own comments in a way. Not so much making
fun of the students. They’re young, but, you know. But, when you teach, you say
the same things, kinds of things over and over until
you get tired of. [ Laughter ]>>Ron Charles: Yeah. Yeah. I remember thinking
each fall, “My god, these kids haven’t
learned anything.” They were all new.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah. Right.>>Ron Charles: [inaudible]
I was talking to last year. Yeah. I love this poem
because it makes me think about what poetry does in a very
clever, creative, specific way, but it isn’t just about poetry.>>Rae Armantrout: No. I suppose not.>>Ron Charles: Right.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah, part of it is just me taking
in my environment. I was, as a matter of fact, I
was grading papers at a café, at an outdoor café because
I lived in San Diego. And, there was a honeysuckle, and there was a woman
with her daughter. And so, everything
around me is coming.>>Ron Charles: Coming.>>Rae Armantrout: Coming into
my consciousness, and therefore, sort of invading the poem.>>Ron Charles: Nice. Very nice. Here’s another one called “Craft
Talk” which is very specifically about the craft of poetry.>>Rae Armantrout: Right,
and that’s going to be in my upcoming book, “Wobble”. I’m advertising it. Which is coming out
next September.>>Ron Charles: Congratulations.>>Rae Armantrout: And,
this is a prose poem. So, another thing that happens to me besides being
interviewed is being asked to do craft talks. Some of you may be familiar
with that, and in a craft talk, you’re sort of asked to say
what you think a good poem is. Or, what poetry should do. And, I’m not very comfortable with prescriptions,
being prescriptive. I mean, I have ideas about what
poetry can do, but my problem is that I’m ambivalent
about modern ideas. You know, I’m, as soon as I have
an idea, I go, “Is that true? Wait a minute. There’s probably
ways it’s not true.” So, that’s kind of
what this comes out of. “The Craft Talk. So that the best thing
you could do, it seemed, was climb inside the
machine that was language and feel what it wanted or was
capable of doing at any point, steering only occasionally. The best thing was to let language speak its piece
while standing inside it – not like a knight
in armor exactly, not like a mascot
in a chicken suit. The best thing was to
create in the reader or listener an uncertainty as to where the voice she
heard was coming from so as to frighten her a little. Why should I want
to frighten her?” [ Laughter ]>>Ron Charles: Thank you. And, your poems do
that repeatedly. The voice switches on
us in surprising ways. The tone switches. These are intentional
things you’re doing.>>Rae Armantrout:
I hope so, yeah. [ Laughter ] I really, you know, actually,
that’s, that is a good question because it’s intentional,
I suppose, but it’s also ingrained. It’s also just the way I am. So, maybe it’s not intentional. [ Laughter ]>>Ron Charles: You’re
doing it to me now.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah. [ Laughter ]>>Ron Charles: And, you make
fun of the idea of the poet as the authority who’s in
total control of the language. In your version, you sort
of mock that whole idea.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah. Right. I mean, I do,
I do different voices.>>Ron Charles: Yes.>>Rae Armantrout: In my poems. You know, I suppose,
because it’s famous, but the working title
for “The Wasteland” was “He Do the Police in
Different Voices”.>>Ron Charles: I
did not know that.>>Rae Armantrout: I love that. It should have been the title
of “The Wasteland”, I think. But, anyway.>>Ron Charles: No! [ Laughter ]>>Rae Armantrout:
But, you know, I do the police in
different voices. So, sometimes, I’ll just hear
something, overhear something, or read something,
and just want to take that voice wherever it
can go and take it further and maybe take it to somewhere
problematic that it seems like it has the potential to go. So, there are, there
are plenty of voices in my poems saying things in a
way I don’t stand by or mean. They just, these voices just
sort of run to where they go. And then, I take a
look at that, I guess.>>Ron Charles: Yes. Right. You say in one poem
called “Approximate”, “Wait, I haven’t found the
right word yet. Poem means homeostasis.” [ Laughter ] A word I, I mean, I had a vague
idea of what that word meant, but it’s some sort of.>>Rae Armantrout: Poem doesn’t
really mean that, of course.>>Ron Charles: Yes,
it’s ironic. It’s ironic, isn’t it? In another poem, you write,
“A word is mostly connotation. Matter is mostly aura. Each poem says, ‘I’m
desperate’.” Each poem.>>Rae Armantrout:
[laughter] Everything must go.>>Ron Charles: Yes,
about the sale. What do you mean by that? “I’m desperate.”>>Rae Armantrout: Part of it.>>Ron Charles: The
“I’m desperate” part. I like the energy of that, what
it suggests about the poet.>>Rae Armantrout: Can I?>>Ron Charles: Yes.>>Rae Armantrout: I think.>>Ron Charles: That is
from “Make It New”, right?>>Rae Armantrout: Right. “Make It New”. So, is that in, what’s that in? I’ve lost track of my own.>>Ron Charles: There’s
a lot of them here.>>Rae Armantrout: So,
is it in “Next Life”? Okay. Good.>>Ron Charles: There? Yeah.>>Rae Armantrout: All right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Okay. So, “Make It New” is the title
of that, and it comes from, that’s one of Ezra
Pound’s maxims. So, it’s one of the
maxims of modernism. And, you know, when
you’re making it new, you have to get rid of the old. So, each poem says,
“I’m desperate. Everything must go.” So, it’s kind of like a yard
sale or, you know, a closing, going out of business sale. Past has to go. And, it’s sort of,
this poem was sort of also constructed
like a road trip. “The steady pressure on the
accelerator can be stipulated in advance as can
the steady bushes, blurred in peripheral vision.” So, we know what we’re going
to see on this road trip. It’s, we’ve seen it before. We’re going to see
the same thing. A diner or a gas
station comes up. Tried evoking it “while satirizing the
impulse to do so.” So, in a way, it’s a poem about
being jaded until the end. “What that name will be is
the one thing we don’t know.”>>Ron Charles: Read
the whole thing.>>Rae Armantrout: Okay. Okay. “Make It New. Shaking the parts of speech
like fluff in the snow globe — the way sleep scrambles
life’s detritus. Each poem says, ‘I’m desperate,’
then, ‘Everything must go!” (To hear something familiar
here leads to careful laughter.) ‘Go’ where? The steady pressure on the
accelerator can be stipulated in advance as can
the steady bushes, blurred in peripheral vision. And, someone will have set
down a diner or a gas station at a desolate crossroads
and tried naming it to evoke the whole human
situation while satirizing the impulse to do so. What that name will be, is
the one thing we don’t know.” [laughs]>>Ron Charles: The way you
do something and satirize it at the same time amazes me
repeatedly in these poems. You know, [laughs]. Also, I love the opening
of that, shaking the parts of speech like a snow
globe is a great metaphor. In a poem called “Meant”,
you write, “‘Poetry wants to make things mean more than
they mean’, says someone, as if we knew how
much things meant or in what unit of measure.” Want to read that poem? That’s called, that’s
in “Just Saying.”>>Rae Armantrout:
It’s towards the end.>>Ron Charles: Yes, it is.>>Rae Armantrout: “Meant. When the rat rests, its
brain runs the maze again, then runs it backwards,
and repeats. This is early music. ‘Poetry wants to make things
mean more than they mean’, says someone, as if we
knew how much things meant, and in what unit of measure. Some chords (crowds) seem
sad because uncertain? — while others appear
quite resolved.”>>Ron Charles: “Poetry wants to make things mean
more than they mean.” Most of us think, “Yes,
that’s pretty profound.” And then, she immediately
makes fun of that, huh? As if we knew how much
things meant or what unit of measurement we’re
talking about. Even that opening line,
if you hear it again, you’ll see how funny it is. “When the rat rests, its
brain runs the maze again. It runs backwards, and repeats. This is early music.” [ Laughter ]>>Rae Armantrout: I like, I
like Bach and Vivaldi, but, you know, that’s
pretty much [inaudible].>>Ron Charles: Yeah,
that’s right. That’s how it began, yeah. In another poem, you write, “The
string of words could be a worm or a needle passing in
and out through some hole, stitching what to what?” It’s like you’re about to
tell us what poetry does, you’re about to tell us
how words connect things and make meanings, and then
you make fun of that impulse to explain or define what poetry
does, even as you are doing it. You, the way you involve
us in that process. You remember a poem called
“Formal Constraints”?>>Rae Armantrout: Oh, yeah.>>Ron Charles: “Just Saying”>>Rae Armantrout: “Just
Saying” [inaudible].>>Ron Charles: Right there. Even your title is
sort of ironical. [ Pages Turning ]>>Rae Armantrout: All right. This one’s a little kinky. “Formal Constraints. Now the poem is saying what it
is forced to say by its history, its form thus pleasing the
reader who knows he can trust it without being obliged to regard
any statements it may make as accurate or “true.” The poem is ridding
itself and us of the burden of abstraction – a
valuable service. Still a question arises
as to how to dispose of the poem once this
divestment is complete.”>>Ron Charles: Explain
that poem to us, would you?>>Rae Armantrout:
[laughs] Well, poems often have formal
constraints of some sort. So, a poem might be
forced, in certain ways. I don’t feel that. I think I suppose mine are, too. Sure, I mean, I learned
a lot from modernism, from William Carlos
Williams and such. I mean, poems are, you know,
have short lines and such. So, you know, the, whether
you’re writing a sonnet or you’re writing a, you know, sort of modernist slash
post-modernist poem, there’s going to be
expectations, habits, constraints that you’re
going to be obeying. But, I sort of took off
from the word constraints because you hear,
you hear that a lot. You hear in the poetry world because there could
be different kinds of formal constraints
besides the traditional, besides like a sonnet
or something. You could decide that
you’re going to write, like Lyn Hejinian’s
book “My Life”. You’re going to write
37 paragraphs, each of which is
37 sentences long. That’s a self-invented
formal constraint, right? So, you hear that praise
constraints, but, you know, it sort of made me
think about bondage. And so, that made me think
about serial killers. So, there’s a voice going on
behind this poem, you know, like how do you dispose
of the body. It’s sort of [laughter]. [inaudible] “Still a question
arises as to how to dispose of the poem once this
divestment,” which, of course, means taking your clothes
off, “is complete.” So, I don’t know whether
it’s playful or not, but sometimes I just get a
voice in my head that’s sort of the devil made me
do it, I guess, but. [ Laughter ]>>Ron Charles: Want
to talk about words. “What can words say?” you ask in one poem. And, later in that same
collection, you say, “What can description do? Tongues tapping the roofs of
our mouth to make meaning.” And, that is what language
is, ultimately, biologically.>>Rae Armantrout: Yep. Yeah, yeah, yeah.>>Ron Charles: Just tapping our
tongue to the top of our mouth. Want you to read a
poem called “Spent”.>>Rae Armantrout: Okay.>>Ron Charles: You can see how
much I like this collection.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah.>>Ron Charles: “Spent”. I want you to listen here
to the way the meanings of words are being
flipped line by line.>>Rae Armantrout: This one,
by the way, also sort of came out of teaching and seeing what
my student, who were young, as you point out, no longer
knew about the meaning of words that I, that they would
know one meaning of a word. In the case of “Spent”, it had
to do with, they thought it had to do with money,
only with money.>>Ron Charles: Right.>>Rae Armantrout: Which
it doesn’t necessarily. But anyway. “Spent. Suffer as in allow. List as in want. Listless as in transcending
desire, or not rising to greet it. To list is to lean,
dangerously, to one side. Have you forgotten? Spent as in exhausted.”>>Ron Charles: And
a poem, a poet plays with all those meanings. Some meanings are
contradictory or unrelated to one another at the same time. And, this poem encapsulates
that in a very subconscious way. I remember explaining
to a reporter at the Christian Science Monitor that we couldn’t say
sucked in the monitor. He had no idea that that had
any sort of obscene meaning.>>Rae Armantrout: Oh, wow.>>Ron Charles: It has
become so common to him, that we would just say it. Mrs. Eddy was rolling
over in her grave. You talk about poems being
a cure for loneliness. In another poem, you
write “Language exists to pull things close.” In another one, you write, “Pattern recognition was our
first response to loneliness.” Such a beautiful line.>>Rae Armantrout: You got me. [ Laughter ]>>Ron Charles: In another
poem, you write, “The feeling of emptiness is a
preexisting condition.” One not covered by Obamacare. [ Laughter ] Some lines I pulled out here. This one. In “With”,
you say, “I write things down to show others
later or to show myself that I am not alone
with my experience.” One of your poems ends, “So much
happiness is caged in language, ready to burst out
anytime and fade.” It sounds so hopeful, and then.>>Rae Armantrout:
And, then, yeah.>>Ron Charles: It’s quite dark.>>Rae Armantrout: The nod.>>Ron Charles: The nod, yes. [laughs] Let’s talk about
metaphors and what those are. In a poem called
“Versed”, you write, “Metaphor forms a crust beneath which the crevice
of each experience.” I love that more
than I understand it. Can you explain it?>>Rae Armantrout: I could try. I thought that was a pretty
good explanation of it. [laughs] Yeah, well, I mean,
metaphor forms a crust. [laughs]>>Ron Charles: Could
you repeat it, please? [inaudible] move on.>>Rae Armantrout: I think that
a metaphor creates its own kind of surface, and that
metaphors can be clever. Metaphor, metaphors
carry, as we all know, something across from one sort
of realm of discourse to another and connected to like a bridge. Typically, you start to write because you’ve had
some experience, and the experience may be
just a thought or a feeling. I don’t mean something happened to you necessarily,
but it may have. And, that experience
starts you to want to write, and perhaps you come
up with this metaphor. And, the metaphor is
like a little machine. And, it connects these two
things, one to the other. But, once you’ve got
this bridge, you know, the bridge kind of goes over
the experience, I guess, meaning the experience is
still there inside you. It doesn’t stop being
there inside you, and you never plumbed it all. I mean, have you? So.>>Ron Charles: That’s good. That’s very good. Thank you very much. I want you to read a poem
called “Integer” in “Versed”. This is the book for which you
won the Pulitzer Prize, right?>>Rae Armantrout: Yep.>>Ron Charles: This
second part.>>Rae Armantrout: Just
read the second part? Okay. “Metaphor is
ritual sacrifice. It kills the look-alike. No, metaphor is homeopathy. A healthy cell exhibits
contact inhibition.”>>Ron Charles: Read it again.>>Rae Armantrout: Okay. “Metaphor is ritual sacrifice. It kills the look-alike. No, metaphor is homeopathy. A healthy cell exhibits
contact inhibition.”>>Ron Charles: You gave us two
definitions of metaphor there. You give one of them. You immediately contradict it. Homeopathy is not a word
we use very much anymore. It used to be you would
give someone a poison in a very diluted
amount that would induce, in a healthy person, the conditions they’re
suffering from. And that was.>>Rae Armantrout:
Or, so they say.>>Ron Charles: And,
that was thought to cure them in some way.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah.>>Ron Charles: Right. Those two definitions, why those
two definitions of metaphor? What do you suggesting?>>Rae Armantrout: Well, I,
I can explain the first one. I’m not sure that I can
explain the you homeopathy. But, “Metaphor is
ritual sacrifice. It kills the look-alike.” Well, I think in metaphor,
there’s always one term, or usually, there’s one
term that’s privileged over the other, you know. And, what the thing is like
usually gets developed further than the thing, right? So, it’s like the thing,
the tenor of the metaphor which is the sort of
technical, literary term. The thing you’re really
talking about gets subsumed by the vehicle of the metaphor which is the way
you’re describing it. That takes over. It sort of replaces
the original.>>Ron Charles: Right.>>Rae Armantrout: And then, a healthy cell exhibits
contact inhibition. That has a specific meaning. You know what kind of cells
don’t exhibit contact inhibition and continue to grow
into other cells? Cancer cells. So, I guess the whole
thing is sort of playing around with metaphor as cancer. And then, homeopathy’s
a kind of medicine, so that makes a kind
of sense with it.>>Ron Charles: You
say in one poem, “Do you believe this metaphor?” [ Laughter ] And, you once asked
an interviewer, you told an interviewer, “Metaphor should
make us suspicious, but we can’t do without it.”>>Rae Armantrout: I
don’t think we can. I mean, I think it’s just
a natural human propensity.>>Ron Charles: Jenny
Holzer, you know her work.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah.>>Ron Charles: I noticed points
of comparison between you two.>>Rae Armantrout: Now,
that, I don’t know that. [inaudible]>>Ron Charles: Particularly
in later poems. Certain lines just sounded
very aphoristic to me, very much like the kind
of thing she would put in lights in the museum. “What if every moment is a
best guess on a pop quiz.” That could be her, couldn’t it? It’s you.>>Rae Armantrout: I guess.>>Ron Charles: It’s you. “The idea that we can improve
is a form of self-grooming.” That’s definitely see that
in lights at the MOMA. “To incorporate change without
disorientation is to win.” These are very aphoristic lines.>>Rae Armantrout: It
is, but the [inaudible].>>Ron Charles: But
those come to you very.>>Rae Armantrout: But,
I’m sure that the lines around them destabilize
[inaudible].>>Ron Charles: Completely. Yes. And, these are
in your later poems. It was not the kind of thing
you did in your earlier poems. What did you learn
studying Emily Dickinson? I know that was an
influence on you.>>Rae Armantrout: Oh, well. Dick, you know, I
don’t, I don’t know that I exactly learned
technically from Dickinson because I feel like
she is so far above and so far above all of us. I admire her so much. She, her word choice
is so original, like “a narrow fellow
in the grass”. I mean, who every would
put the word narrow next to the word fellow?>>Ron Charles: Right.>>Rae Armantrout:
You know, no one. [ Laughter ] So, I mean, she is just
amazingly original. I, if I learned anything
from her as a young woman, it would be just her
boldness, I guess. Just her, I mean, whatever
she did in her personal life, in her poetry, she was
absolutely fearless. You know, and so,
that was encouraging.>>Ron Charles: “Necromance.” This poem made me think of her.>>Rae Armantrout:
Oh, that’s nice.>>Ron Charles: Just looked
it like one of her poems, but.>>Rae Armantrout: Oh,
you mean “October”? Okay.>>Ron Charles: “October”
[inaudible] a certain sound. A certain echo.>>Rae Armantrout: “October. Beauty appeals like a cry for
help that’s distant or inhuman. So foreclosed. We say ablaze because
we can’t stand it. Red and yellow nearing or
nearly turning toward.”>>Ron Charles: That’s
how the poem ends.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah.>>Ron Charles: Yeah.>>Rae Armantrout: What we
don’t know turning toward. Turning toward what?>>Ron Charles: Right.>>Rae Armantrout: The leaves, just sort of about
turning leaves in October, but turning toward.>>Ron Charles: The
images are surprising. It’s both concrete and
abstract at the same time. It points to something
very concrete and ordinary, but at the same time,
something very profound in a way that reminded me of her. Let’s take a break. Just stand up and turn around. Don’t leave the room. This is not an intermission. [ Laughter ] They just need to stand
up and get their, yeah, get their legs circulating
so they don’t.>>Rae Armantrout: I’m going to
come disconnect it if I turn?>>Ron Charles: No,
we won’t do that. We won’t do that. [ Background Conversations ] Okay. That’s it. Sit back down. I hear Dickinson most in your
work when you talk about God because I could not, I knew from the memoir your theological
background of your parents, at least, but I could not
develop any kind of theology from the poems themselves. But, there are references
to God.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah.>>Ron Charles: In
several poems, and it’s a very Dickinsonian
approach. It’s ironic. It’s sometimes sarcastic, it’s
very much an acknowledgement of His power, and a poke in the
divine eye at the same time.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah.>>Ron Charles: “My self-reflection
shames God into watching.” So good. “My self-reflections
shames God into watching.” “If we are made in God’s
image, God is impatient without really knowing what
he wishes would occur.” Wonder if you’d read
“Functions” to us.>>Rae Armantrout: Sure. [ Pages Turning ]>>Ron Charles: This is.>>Rae Armantrout: Okay. Here we go. [ Laughter ] “Functions. We inquire about heaven as we
might about a nursing home. Will I get email there? Will I have insights and
someone to be pleased with them? Will that person be faking it? Will she be under orders? Will my words seem foreign? “Twee, twee!” some sound insists.” [ Laughter ]>>Ron Charles: Now, Dickinson
never would have written a poem like that. She wouldn’t even know some
of those words, and yet, that’s the same kind
of attitude.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah. That’s one thing I,
that originally drew me to Dickinson is exactly that
because I was raised in this. My mother was an
evangelical, so, you know, this kind of very
literalist interpretation of the Christian Bible. And, I became an agnostic,
I guess, at the age of 12. So, that created some problems
in the household, yeah. And, so, when I first
was reading Dickinson, I saw that she was
struggling with that, too. She was under a lot of pressure to theologically
conform, and she didn’t. I mean, I think she, she
doubted God, she also sort of, she went back and forth, I think between believing
and not believing. But, she also sort
of wanted to poke at God’s authority, you know?>>Ron Charles: Yes. “He fumbles at your soul.”>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah. Right.>>Ron Charles: And
acknowledgement of His power.>>Rae Armantrout: But, also,
it seems intrusive, right? Yeah. Yeah.>>Ron Charles: Yes, and an acknowledgement
of His incompetence.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah. That, too.>>Ron Charles: Which
is terrifying.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah. Yeah, that’s another
thing is the way that she just isn’t
afraid to say that way back in the middle 19th century,
you know, by a woman, too. Yeah. And, so, I guess my
attitude about religion is that on the one hand, at least
the kind of religion that I grew up with, I grew up with praying. And so, sometimes, if I really
feel threatened or something, I still have a tendency to want
to say a prayer, but then, I, I mean, it seems to creepy to be like asking a personal
favor of a Lord. I’m sorry if some of you are no
doubt religious, but it’s just so feudal, like feudalistic,
you know. Lord, let me. And, the whole language, the
whole construction of it is so hierarchical, right,
and authoritarian. And, that put me off. And, maybe it was an
anti-patriarchal feeling that had that the whole sort
of feudal court patriarchy of religion as I was
introduced to it put me off. But, having said that,
there’s still, I guess, a sense of reaching inside me that doesn’t know what
it’s reaching for. But, it’s reaching. I think there’s something,
sort of, excessive about human
consciousness. It’s more than we need to
survive, you know, this, the sense of beauty, right? The sense of kind of the
whole self-consciousness thing which is so extreme with humans, is more than we need,
really, to survive. So, what’s that for, you know? I’m not saying, necessarily that because it exists,
God must exist. I’m just saying that
because it exists, we reach out to something
that must be beyond us or that we wish were beyond us
because we have all of this sort of extra consciousness
to play with. You know, to look at
the universe with.>>Ron Charles: The brain
is bigger than the sky.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah. Yeah.>>Ron Charles: Yeah.>>Rae Armantrout: There we go.>>Ron Charles: Oh, yeah. You write in one
poem, “Like God, I will leave an arc
of implication.”>>Rae Armantrout: [laughter]
Oh, that poem is, yeah. I’m “Mother’s Day”.>>Ron Charles: Right.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah, I
sort of play God in that poem. [ Laughter ]>>Ron Charles: It’s such a good
comment on the speaker and God, “an arc of implication”. In “Solution”, you write,
“You’re the thing that waits to trap each passing thought, the anxious blank
that God loves.” And then, a poem
called “Prayer”.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah.>>Ron Charles: In a
collection called “Money Shot”.>>Rae Armantrout: Right. [laughs]>>Ron Charles: A
surprisingly crude reference. Where? Why can’t I find it?>>Rae Armantrout: Well, I wrote “Money Shot” pretty much
during the financial crisis.>>Ron Charles: Okay, so
it does not refer to the?>>Rae Armantrout: Well,
I was certainly aware of the porn reference, but you
know, the money thought in porn, as everyone knows, I guess,
is where the man proves that he’s enjoyed himself. So, it’s about, you know, like,
show me the money, I guess, in the sense, you know, the
moment of truth, so to speak.>>Ron Charles: Prayer.>>Rae Armantrout: Prayer. Prayers, actually plural. “We pray and the
resurrection happens. Here are the young again,
sniping and giggling, tingly as ringing phones. All we ask is that our
thinking sustain momentum, identify targets. The pressure in my lower back
rising to be recognized as pain. The blue triangles
on the rug repeating. Coming up, a discussion
on the uses of torture. The fear that all this will end. The fear that it won’t.”>>Ron Charles: I have felt
like that often this year. [laughs] Shifting gears, in
a way, are a number of poems that have to do with physics.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah.>>Ron Charles: And,
astrophysics.>>Rae Armantrout: Right.>>Ron Charles: In a way that
sometimes becomes anthological and theological, but
sometimes it’s very surprisingly technical. Where did that come from? Did you study physics? Did you study astrophysics?>>Rae Armantrout:
Not in school.>>Ron Charles: Astronomy?>>Rae Armantrout:
Well, so, there’s a lot to be said about that. First of all, I think that I got
interested in physics because, and cosmology because
it asks some of the same questions
that religion asks. You know. How did
the universe begin? How will the universe end? You know, why is
the universe here, although it doesn’t really
answer that question, but so, I think that’s where I got
interested in physics is because it asks those
really big questions. And, yeah, I started reading
those popular physics books for lay people.>>Ron Charles: Like “The
Cosmos” and that sort of thing?>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah. I mean, you know, Brian
Greene’s “The Elegant Universes” and “The Fabric of the Cosmos”,
and not just Brian Greene. But, you know, Lee Smolin and
Lisa Randall and Carlo Rovelli. And so, I’ve read a
lot of those books.>>Ron Charles: Yeah.>>Rae Armantrout: And, so, I
picked up some of the lingo, and I think I know
something about it, but I certainly not an expert. I mean, to really know physics,
you have to understand the math because physics is math.>>Ron Charles: Yeah.>>Rae Armantrout: So,
basically, when you read one of those books, and
you’re not doing the math, you’re reading metaphors. I mean, you know,
physicists are trying to tell you what they’ve found
out by various metaphors. And, some of them are.>>Ron Charles: Actually
[inaudible].>>Rae Armantrout: Some
of them are good, yeah.>>Ron Charles: Yeah.>>Rae Armantrout: Exactly. And, some of them are good
at creating metaphors. Some of better than others. But, you know, you’re
getting a kind of a metaphorical top layer
beneath which is really math. And, I can’t get to the math,
but I’m very interested in it. I, but, also, I read it
because it provokes me to write, and it provokes me to write
because I get to a place that I don’t understand. And, that’s, that sense of puzzlement is often
what starts a poem for me whether the poem’s
about physics or theology or even popular culture. Like, why is that popular? You know, anything that leaves
me not quite understanding can lead into a poem somehow. And, since that happens so
often with physics books.>>Ron Charles: Yes.>>Rae Armantrout: And, once
I found out that I could end up writing a poem by reading
a physics book, I went, “I’ll read more physics.”>>Ron Charles: Yeah. It’s very surprising to me. Do you have a favorite here a
“Scale”, “A Human”, “Simple”?>>Rae Armantrout: Okay,
well “Simple” is more about biology, really, but yeah. Well, why don’t, could we do
two, or can we just do one?>>Ron Charles: Oh, sure.>>Rae Armantrout: Okay. Well, let’s do, let’s do
“Simple” and maybe “Scale”. Sure. “Simple” is in “Versed”. Okay. And, this is dedicated to my son Aaron Korkegian
who’s a biologist. So, this is, we were, I guess
we were talking about evolution, and he thought that I was
anthropomorphizing it. And, I didn’t mean to, but
that’s language for you. You know, when you, it’s hard
to talk about processes without, dynamic processes
without speaking as if there were agents
behind them somehow. So, anyway. Here’s the poem. Oh, and also, this is,
well, we haven’t talk about that, so I won’t go into. “Simple. Complex systems
can arise from simple rules. It’s not that we
want to survive, it’s that we’ve been
drugged and made to act as if we do while all
the while the sea breaks and rolls, painlessly, under. If we’re not copying
it, we’re lonely. Is this the knowledge that
demands to be passed down? Time is made from swatches
of heaven and hell. If we’re not killing
it, we’re hungry.”>>Ron Charles: Nice. Now, that opening line
is, refers to, like, how could we have eyeballs or.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah.>>Ron Charles: Livers or
complicated physical things which started from very
simple systems, right?>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah.>>Ron Charles: It’s the sort of
biological premise of evolution.>>Rae Armantrout: Right. Right. Right.>>Ron Charles: Getting at here. Right. But, you take this
in a different direction. Talk about the direction
you take that.>>Rae Armantrout: Well, okay. So, this whole book,
not the whole book. I’m sorry. Like half the book. Half the book was
written in the wake of my being diagnosed
with cancer. And, not just any cancer,
not a common cancer. No, a cancer no one
had ever heard of. I mean, someone had, but
adrenocortical cancer which is vanishingly rare
and also super deadly. And so, like, almost
no one survives. So, I did, though. But.>>Ron Charles: That’s great.>>Rae Armantrout: It’s
great, but of course, I didn’t think I was going
to because, you know, when I read about
it, was like, um. A 5% maybe survive. So, I, you know, basically, I
was getting my affairs in order. Even though they got
the whole tumor out, and they didn’t see anymore
cancer, but the doctors I talked to went, “Well, we see no
evidence of disease now.” [ Laughter ] But, you know, I
was just waiting for it to come back, right? So, I wrote this book, or half
of this book in, you know, even for a while after
that, I sort of wrote kind of under the idea that
I was going to die. So, I was, in a way,
talking about just sort of the cruelty of
life, I suppose. “It’s not that we
want to survive, it’s that we’ve been drugged
and made to act as if we do.” Well, I mean, that’s a sort of. Is that true? Maybe it’s true. If you think of the sort
of biochemicals in our body as drugs, you know, that
we have a reward system. And, one of the things we’re
rewarded for by our dopamine and our serotonin is doing
things that help our survival. Right?>>Ron Charles: Right.>>Rae Armantrout: Eating, etc.
So, in a way, you could say that we’re drugged and made to
act as if we wanted to survive. It’s not that we wake up
from childhood and we’re two, and we go, “You know
what I want? I want to survive.” It’s not like we really have a
choice about wanting to survive. That was foisted on us. So, the poem kind of
goes on from there.>>Ron Charles: Right. Let’s read one of the more
physics-oriented poems.>>Rae Armantrout: Okay.>>Ron Charles: Would
that be “Scale”?>>Rae Armantrout: “Scale”.>>Ron Charles: Or “Conclusion”?>>Rae Armantrout:
Let’s go, okay, is “Conclusion” in “Itself”? Let’s see. Let me look at it. Yes! It’s kind of, yeah.>>Ron Charles: I like the way
it becomes very theological by the end.>>Rae Armantrout: Oh, right. Right. Right.>>Ron Charles: Begins
with physics.>>Rae Armantrout: Talk
about both of them.>>Ron Charles: Begins with
physics, ends with God.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah, it’s
starts with cosmology, I guess, and the man I’m referring
to is Stephen Hawking here. “Conclusion. A man is upset for many
years because he’s heard that information is
destroyed in a black hole. Question: what does this
man mean by “information”? The example given is
of a cry for help, but this is accompanied by
the image of a toy space ship, upended, and is thus not
to be taken seriously. The man recovers his peace of
mind when he ceases to believe in passing through, when
he becomes convinced that the lost information is
splattered on the event horizon. The detective is the new mime. She acts out understanding
the way a mime climbs an invisible wall. It’s because our senses
are so poor that, on CSI, the investigators
stand stock-still, boulders in a stream, while
a crowd pours around them. They pan in slow motion,
reminding us of cameras, then focus with inhuman clarity on the pattern of
cracks in a wall. God’s fractal stammer
pleasures us again.”>>Ron Charles: That is
a whiplash of a poem. [ Laughter ] I mean, I does, it goes all, it goes all over the
universe, literally. It’s always about
information, though.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah.>>Ron Charles: Turning
that turn.>>Rae Armantrout: I
guess you’re right. Yeah.>>Ron Charles: If you
understand, I mean, and I only have the
most basic understanding of what physicists
mean by information. But, then, you’re playing with
pop culture in this TV show, and their information.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah.>>Ron Charles: It’s a very
different kind of information.>>Rae Armantrout:
Yeah, the detectives. Right. Detectives on TV, and you
know, I think this was probably. I don’t really watch CSI,
but I must have seen, you know, a preview for it. I saw, I’m sure I saw this
image where it must have gone into slo-mo, you know. And, the investigator
was, you know, panning, reminding us of cameras. Then focus with an
inhuman clarity. But, this is kind of a
Sherlock Holmes moment, right, of being able to
see the pattern. And, yeah, right. And, then, you, were you going
to say something about the end?>>Ron Charles: You say
something about the end. I think it’s gorgeous
and baffling.>>Rae Armantrout:
God’s fractal.>>Ron Charles: I mean,
someone’s going to use that as a title for
a book someday, you know, “God’s fractal”. It’s just great.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah,
well, you know, fractals are, some of you may know,
sort of recursive, repeating patterns in nature.>>Ron Charles: Every
more complex.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah. Right. And, we enjoy them. I mean, when you see something
that is a fractal pattern, you’re going to find it pretty. You know, I think
that’s just human nature. So, I guess, it sounds,
in the poem, like this is a trick God’s
playing on us, or worse, that God’s fumbling at our soul.>>Ron Charles: Yes. Yeah, well, it sounds
like He’s in charge.>>Rae Armantrout:
Something else. You know.>>Ron Charles: Yeah.>>Rae Armantrout: He might
have his hand somewhere else.>>Ron Charles: Right.>>Rae Armantrout:
[inaudible] again.>>Ron Charles: We’re
God’s fractals, in a way. The ever, you know, ever
multiplying complexity of our own lives and
our own thoughts. Right.>>Rae Armantrout: Thoughts. Yeah.>>Ron Charles: “Arrangements”. One more poem here. Nineteen. Is that in that book?>>Rae Armantrout: I forgot. You know more than
I do about this.>>Ron Charles: Where’s 19. It’s in “Next Life”.>>Rae Armantrout: Okay.>>Ron Charles: There we go. “Arrangements”.>>Rae Armantrout: Okay. Oh, yeah. This is not one
I think about very often. “Arrangement. The way the ancient
explosion has arranged itself. At the bus stop: a hunched
woman with sparse auburn hair above a Peter Pan collar,
a blue jumper, Mary Janes. What novelty has
always promised, claiming to first coalesce,
make cleave unto is almost as last scattering surface, variation in air
pressure, angel voices.”>>Ron Charles: That is a poem
that begins with the Big Bang.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah. It does.>>Ron Charles: And,
immediately moves to a bus stop which is a big, big jump.>>Rae Armantrout: Well, the
way the ancient explosion has arranged itself.>>Ron Charles: We are that.>>Rae Armantrout: We’re that. And so, what are we? So, with anything you’re seeing
is the way the ancient explosion has arranged itself. It’s this room right
here, or at the time that I was writing this, that’s
what I looked out and saw. I guess I was probably in a
car when I had that impression of seeing a woman at a bus stop. And, thinking, “Hmm.” Well, there’s something touching
about her, something poignant that made me remember her. And, I just thought, “Well,
that’s, that’s one thing that the Big Bang has arranged
is this moment with her in it.>>Ron Charles: Yeah,
it, it’s very, it’s a very theological moment
to be reminded that everything, even the most pedestrian
moments are arrangements of that ancient,
incomprehensible explosion.>>Rae Armantrout: It’s
theological if you think that God ordered up the Big
Bang, but we don’t know that.>>Ron Charles: So,
it’s cosmological.>>Rae Armantrout:
Or, I don’t know that. Maybe you know that.>>Ron Charles: No,
it’s cosmological. It’s anthological or something. Yeah, it makes us, it makes our
ordinary lives seem suddenly much vaster.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah.>>Ron Charles: To
attach it back to that. I want to end with a poem
that has nothing to do with anything we’ve
talked about. Which made me laugh. Called “Traveling
Through the Yard”.>>Rae Armantrout: Okay. [ Laughter ] Yeah. That’s a parody.>>Ron Charles: It’s
an early book.>>Rae Armantrout: Yeah. Okay. Well, this does a
version of a famous poem called “Traveling Through the Dark”. That poem, you probably know
it, is by William Stafford. So, this is “Traveling Through
the Yard from William Stafford”. “It was lying near my back porch
in the gaudy light of morning – a dove corpse, oddly
featherless, alive with flies. I stopped, dustpan in hand, and heard them purr
over their feast. To leave that there
would make some stink! So, thinking hard for all
of us, I scooped it up, heaved it across the
marriage counselor’s fence.” [ Laughter ]>>Ron Charles: All right. [ Laughter ] It’s been such a pleasure
to talk to you tonight. Thank you so much. [ Applause ]>>Rae Armantrout: Thank you.>>This has been a presentation
of the Library of Congress. Visit us at loc.gov.

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