Week 1: Rae Armantrout & Henry Miller



In the midst of unpacking, preparing for the Spring semester, and generally allowing my body some well-earned rest, I did manage to read these two books. I picked up a number of Rae Armantrout books recently from Better World Books. I am trying to get closer to her process, but it is difficult — I must admit. Neighbor Dave came over last night and saw my stack of Rae and seemed worried about the endeavor. This first collection, just saying was challenging but helped me get into her style. She is complex and sometimes I’m not sure that I have a clue what she is trying to say, but I enjoy reading her poems and hope that the more I read, perhaps something will be revealed to me that will make me feel like I have an understanding about her writing. The first poem of hers I read was “The Way” in the online poetry class we reference often here, ModPo. I was confused by this poem, which made me curious. My favorite poem of hers to date is “View.” Here is my favorite poem from just saying:

2019-01-03 17.11.18

In the case of Henry Miller, I have to say I was rather surprised at the content within Quiet Days of Clichy. The days did not sound quiet at all to me– they were full of sex, lots and lots of raunchy sex — you can see how Bukowski was inspired by Miller in this short novel. I should have known better, as neighbor Dave mentioned last night, since all Henry Miller did in Paris was have sex and eat out of garbage cans. Well, I had picked this up at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur when I was there in October. I have no regrets reading it, but readers beware! Of course, Miller throws in incredible prose throughout his encounters in Paris– he talks of his perspective on French culture, their cool indifference. I love Henry Miller’s writing, and am always happy to have read another work by him. Though the content of this book may not be ideal for some, Quiet Days in Clichy offers accessible prose by Henry Miller if you are new to his writing, which can be rather difficult in my experience. The way I came to love him as a writer was through The Air Conditioned Nightmare.


9 comments on “Week 1: Rae Armantrout & Henry Miller”

  1. Yes, A, thank you for Spent. It has sent me spinning. Love the way she plays with the two fold meaning of words.
    Very cool that you heard Henry Miller speak, Barbara. Though years since I have read him, he was a fave for a long time. Perhaps my favorite of his is Stand Still Like the Hummingbird.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If “Spent” is any indication, I’m sure Armantrout’s poetry is a challenge. I enjoyed giving it a try. I heard Henry Miller speak at Union Theological Seminary in 1986 at UTS’ 150th anniversary celebration. I don’t remember what he talked about, but I do know it was not sex….in Paris (or I’d remember)!

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  3. I recently devoured the PBS series “The Durrells in Corfu”- and there were several episodes that featured Henry Miller, as he was a friend that Lawrence Durrell met on a visit to Paris… in just about every scene Henry Miller is … naked … !! It is a crack-up, and if anyone here has not enjoyed this series, I highly recommend it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also watched this series a long time ago. I remember thinking it was very good, but I don’t remember a naked Henry Miller. I guess I need to watch it again!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. The Air-Conditioned Nightmare is one my favorites as well. I enjoyed this post, especially your inclusion of Armantrout’s “Spent”. I think I will be familiarizing myself with more of her work.

    Liked by 1 person

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