Henri Michaux died today twenty-five years ago. Nin Andrews has edited a superb collection of Michaux translations by diverse hands: Someone Wants to Steal My Name (Cleveland State University Press, 2003). Nin Andrews joins David Lehman for a poetry reading and discussion tomorrow night at The New School (6:30 PM, 66 W 12th Street, Room 510. Details here).
It’s the rare person I meet whom I don’t want to beat up. Others favor the interior monologue, stream-of-consciousness, art and dreams. Not me. I like to beat people up.
Now some people, unaware of my purposes, play right into my hands, sit opposite me in a grease joint, stay a while, pick their teeth, they want to eat.
Here’s one now.
Notice how swiftly I grab him by the collar. Pow! Then I do it again. Bam! Pow!
Then I hang him on the coat rack. Unhang him. Hang him. Unhang him.
Then I toss him on the table, hit him, kick him, choke him. I mean, I beat the shit out of him.
Then I spit on him. I flood him with my spit.
I rinse him off, I stretch him out (by now I’m losing interest, this is going on too long), I crumple him up, squeeze him dry, and roll him into a ball, which I drop into my glass. Then I lift it in the air and spill it on the floor. “Waiter, get me a clean glass, will you?”
But I’m too fagged out, I pay the bill in a hurry and leave without another word.
-- Henri Michaux (24 Mai 1899 -- 18 Octobre 1984)
(“Mes Occupations” translated by David Lehman)