Two poems by Henri Michaux

Jane Draycott reads ‘The Girl from Bucharest’ and ‘Icebergs’ by Henri Michaux from her collection of new translations Storms Under the Skin: Selected Poems (1927-1954) of Henri Michaux (a PBS Recommendation) published in 2017 by Two Rivers Press.


Henri Michaux was a Belgian-born French author and painter best known for the work he produced while hallucinating on mescaline, a psychedelic comparable to LSD. His visual art is often comprised of squiggly, organic abstractions which vaguely allude to figures or architecture, hinting at the artist’s altered state and the broadening of his senses. Born on May 24, 1899 in Namur, Belgium, Michaux abandoned his college education to travel extensively through Asia and South America, where he encountered philosophical and cultural ideas that resonated with him throughout the rest of his career. The artist’s work focused on the impossibility of making sense of modern society, while also exploring the vastness of self-reflection and psychoactive experiences. His art was the subject of shows at both the Museum of Modern Art in Paris and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1978. Today, his works can be found in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Tate Gallery in London, among others. Michaux died on October 18, 1984 in Paris, France.

Jane Draycott is a UK-based poet with a particular interest in audio and collaborative work. Her latest collection The Occupant (2016) and her first two full collections Prince Rupert’s Drop and The Night Tree are all Poetry Book Society Recommendations. Her previous collection Over was shortlisted for the 2009 T S Eliot Prize. She has been nominated three times for the Forward Prize for Poetry. Her translation of the 14th century dream-vision Pearl (2011), is a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation and was a Stephen Spender Prize-winner. All her publications are with Carcanet Press.