From the Valley of Bronze Camels: A Primer, Some Lectures, & a Boondoggle on Poetry



Jane Miller loves poetry. In these provocative and deeply insightful essays, she unpacks the work of giants like Adrienne Rich, Paul Celan, Marina Tsevetaeya, Osip Mandelstam, and Garcia Lorca alongside painters such as Caravaggio and Paul Klee, as well as ancient Chinese music and techniques of the contemporary poem. Miller explores the use of the question mark in the history of poetry and its function as a revelation of poetic voice. She considers the positive and negative aspects of surrealism on the contemporary poem, its anti-feminist origins in France, its contemporary usage, and the benefits of Super-Real images. Miller examines how identity politics might affect the imagination. She describes ancient Chinese musical instruments to show how their sounds resonate off/in American poems and on the aural integrity of the lyric poem. She interrogates the political implications of language and the degeneration and regeneration of words. Finally, in an essay about what she dares not say about poetry, she comes out against forms of surrealism, narrative, jargon, rhetoric, irony, and appropriation. This masterful work can be read as advice to a young writer, but it also invites us into the mind of a writer who has developed her craft through the course of a lifetime of writing, reading, and exploring the world, showing not only the ideas that influenced her—feminist, lesbian, and international works—but also how Miller has, in turn, influenced ideas.

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The University of Michigan Press
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