Rae Armantrout, winner of the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, is one of the founding members of the West Coast group of Language poets and stand apart from other Language poets in her lyrical voice and her commitment to the interior and the domestic. Her short-lined poems are often concerned with dismantling conventions of memory, pop culture, science, and mothering, and these unsparing interrogations are often streaked with wit. “You can hold the various elements of my poems in your mind at one time, but those elements may be hissing and spitting at one another,” notes Armantrout.
On Wednesday, September 24, at 7 p.m., Armantrout gave a reading at Counterpath, along with Brian Foley.
The reading was preceded by a screening of a new film by Domietta Torlasco, “Philosophy in the Kitchen” (21 min.), a split-screen video essay that explores how housework has changed the cinema. Well before other forms of labor in the new global economy erased the line between work and life, housework (from cleaning and cooking to child-rearing) was always that with which we are never done. It seizes all of life incessantly, requiring that we envision new forms of expression and tactics of resistance. The cinema of duration—long takes, repetitive gestures, protracted silences—was born in the kitchen in the 1940s and from there it went on to alter our sense of time and understanding of social relations. Gleaning, collecting, and reframing images of domestic labor from key European films, “Philosophy in the Kitchen” sketches for us an alternative history of the cinema—one in which the blurring of work and life gives rise to a new image and thought of time.
Rae Armantrout is the author of several collections of widely anthologized poetry, and has also published a short memoir, True (1998). Her Collected Prose was published in 2007. A California native, Armantrout earned her BA at UC Berkeley—where she studied with Denise Levertov—and she received her MA at San Francisco State. She is a professor and director of the New Writing Series at the University of California, San Diego.
Brian Foley is the author of The Constitution (Black Ocean, 2014). He’s authored several chapbooks, most recently TOTEM ( Fact-Simile Editions, 2014). His poems have appeared in Boston Review, The Volta, Denver Quarterly, The Fanzine, Everyday Genius and elsewhere. He is the founder and editor of Brave Men Press and attends the University of Denver Creative Writing PhD Program.
Domietta Torlasco is associate professor of French and Italian and comparative literary studies at Northwestern University. She is the author of The Time of the Crime: Phenomenology, Psychoanalysis, Italian Film.