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The John Ashbery Poetry Series Presents Readings by Rae Armentrout and Lydia Davis, October 2

Eleanor Davis

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. — The John Ashbery Poetry Series presents poet Rae Armentrout and writer Lydia Davis reading from their work on Thursday, October 2, at 6:00 p.m. The event takes place at Weis Cinema on The Bard College campus and is free and open to the public.

Rae Armantrout is a native Californian whose poems are described as masterful contradictions. According to Robert Creeley, her work has “a quiet and enabling signature.” Her poems are telegenically “regional,” filled with bungalows, newscasters and swimming pools yet they ring with an immaterial clarity that quietly subsumes her readers and listeners in a radical and eerily funny vision. Armantrout began working as a poet in the Bay Area, and studied at UC Berkeley (AB, 1970), where she worked with Denise Levertov, and San Francisco State (MA, 1975). Subsequently, she was at the center of the first generation of “Language Poets,” often credited with introducing poetry to post-modernity. Since then, Armantrout has forged a growing international reputation—publishing eight books of poems, most recently Up to Speed (Wesleyan, 2004), as well as countless poems anthologized (The Best American Poetry 2002, and Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology) and gathered in diverse journals such as Conjunctions, Partisan Review, and the Los Angeles Times. In 2000, A Wild Salience, a collection of critical writings on her work, was published (Burning Deck). She has directed the New Writing Series at UC San Diego since 1989, and co-organized the Page Mother’s Conference in 1999. She had two poems—“Traveling Through the Dark,” and “Articulation”—included in The Oxford Book of American Poetry (New York: Oxford U. Press, 2006). Her work has also appeared in the New Yorker—most recently, her poem “Integer” in April, 2008. She has taught writing at UC San Diego for almost two decades.

Lydia Davis is an innovator of the short story form. Acclaimed for their brevity (many are only one or two sentences long) and humor, her stylistic hallmarks of minimalist wordplay—with initial quick humor that then cause the reader to think again—offer up crisp twists on familiar themes. She is the author of four collections of short fiction, including Varieties of Disturbance (2007), Break It Down, Samuel Johnson Is Indignant and a novel, The End of the Story. Her fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories (edited by Annie Proulx) and The Best American Poetry, and has been published in literary journals ranging from the New Yorker and Harper’s to Conjunctions and Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. Her work has been translated into six languages. 

Since 1995, the John Ashbery Poetry Series has brought leading contemporary poets to Bard for readings and discussion in an intimate setting. For further information about the series, call The Bard Center at 845-758-7425.

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This event was last updated on 10-02-2008