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Interviews: M-O

Rae Armantrout

Rae Armantrout

Independent, skeptical, laconic, and always lyrical, Rae Armantrout is a poet of wit and precision. Her poems are typically built of brief sections and short lines in which every word and syllable has been carefully weighed and placed. She also values alacrity and surprise. Arcs of argument can end midflight or spring abruptly in unforeseen directions. The tone shifts, and shifts again. The rewards of her quicksilver verse are many: she helps, as William Blake once put it, to cleanse the doors of perception. You look anew at everyday things and delight in language’s myriad marvels and traps. You also laugh out loud.

Interview of the Day

Alice McDermott

Alice McDermott

Before I met Alice McDermott, I’d heard a story: when her students became distracted with excitement after she won the National Book Award for Charming Billy (1998), she settled the class down by offering a hundred dollars to anyone who remembered the last winner. As the rumor went, she kept her money. Not one M.F.A. student of fiction could recall the winner or the book (Charles Frazier, for Cold Mountain).

This is a revealing wager from a writer as recognized by awards committees as McDermott; her novel That Night (1987) was a finalist for the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the Pulitzer Prize; At Weddings and Wakes (1992) was also a finalist for the Pulitzer. Charming Billy won an American Book Award as well as the National Book Award. Child of My Heart (2002) was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. After This (2006) was yet another finalist for the Pulitzer. Someone (2013) was long-listed for the National Book Award and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. The French translation of her most recent novel, The Ninth Hour (2017), received the Prix Femina étranger.