Rae Armantrout, Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet, currently teaching at the University of California, San Diego, is seen here in a clip from “ModPo” (Modern and Contemporary American Poetry), Al Filreis‘ extraordinary initiative out of the University of Pennsylvania, (recorded in October of 2018).
RA: I remember reading “Howl” for the very first time when I was a sophomore, and I was really taken by the rhythm of it. There’s..just.. It’s very impulsive, it’s very emphatic. A lot of those words, I notice, have stress on the first syllable – “poverty’, “tatters”, “hollow” [“who poverty and tatters and hollow–eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats”] – and he does that a lot. And it’s not enough, it’s never.. it’s not regular enough to be a traditional meter like trochees (but there are a lot of trochees in it, once you learn the terminology you recognize them) – But I just responded, you could, instinctively, you could almost dance to it. And I think that that meant that I was going to be a poet, the fact that I responded, not too much..(well, I responded to what it was saying, it’s sort of liberating message, but at a base, basic level, I responded to the rhythm.