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Arts & Culture

UCSD Prof Rae Armantrout Wins Pulitzer Prize For Poetry

UCSD professor Rae Armantrout won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for her collection "Versed."
UCSD professor Rae Armantrout won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for her collection "Versed."
UCSD Prof Rae Armantrout Wins Pulitzer Prize For Poetry
UCSD professor of writing and literature Rae Armantrout has won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her collection "Versed."

DWANE BROWN: A writing and literature professor at the University of California San Diego has won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Rae Armantrout won for her collections of poems titled Versed. KPBS arts producer Angela Carone has more. ANGELA CARONE: Armantrout is the author of ten books of poetry, but it is her most recent collection titled "Versed" that won the notice of the Pulitzer Prize committee. Armantrout was writing Versed when she was diagnosed with a rare and often fatal form of cancer. She says winning the Pulitzer Prize for this book is particularly meaningful. RAE ARMANTROUT: "Ironically, it turns cancer into a good thing partly because I seemed to have survived it, of course. Even at the time I was writing the book and was still very afraid, I was happy that the experience, instead of shutting me off as a writer, it seemed to open me up." ANGELA CARONE: Armantrout is a native Californian and has been teaching at UCSD for over two decades. The Pulitzer Prize for poetry comes with a prize of $10,000. For KPBS news, I'm Angela Carone.

Rae Armantrout, San Diego-based poet and UCSD professor, has won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for poetry for her collection "Versed." Culture Lust helped break the news to Armantrout, who has yet to hear from the Pulitzer Prize committee about her win (as of 12:40p.m. PST).

Here's how it went: I learned from Twitter that the awards were posted. I went to the site, noticed she won and immediately went into our program system to get her phone number. Then...computer crash. Noooooooo!

I immediately go to Plan B and call the publicist at UCSD and break the good news to her. She calls Armantrout, who doesn't know yet. According to the publicist, Armantrout was so surprised and excited, her comments were, well, not appropriate for broadcast.

I was able to talk to Armantrout shortly after and schedule an interview for this afternoon. She was still in complete shock when we talked. She had just taken a bath, was drying her hair for a lunch appointment and then boom, she gets a phone call learning she's won a Pulitzer Prize!

I'll have more when I talk to Armantrout after lunch, but in the meantime, here's our These Days interview with her from November of 2009. She reads from "Versed" in the interview (first reading at 4:10, second reading 8:13, third reading 10:11)

The collection is notable for the way Armantrout plays with language, her wit, and the way she writes about her experience living with cancer.