Henry Miller’s “Advice to a Young Writer”

All piffle & twaddle – influence of Bottom Dog man.
For real “decadents” read Huysmans & other French authors.
Diarrhea of words – stew of classic allusions.
Fuck Artemis et alia!
Don’t put intellect in your prick!
Write honestly even if poorly.
Humor is weak – immature.
Try drugs and compare two kinds of writing.
Try using only Anglo-Saxon words.
Throw your dictionary away!
Don’t mix realism with poetics!
If you can’t make words fuck, don’t masturbate them!
When you speak of Cunt put hair on it!
Try to forget everything you learned in college.
Try talking like an ignoramus – or an Igaroti.
Read, for emetic, “Palm Wine Drinkard.”
You will learn to write only when you stop trying to write.
A line without effort is worth a chapter of push and pull.
First ask yourself if you have anything to say.
Don’t draw the pen unless you are ready for the kill.
If you don’t get rid of the Classics you’ll die of constipation.
Never show any one what you’ve written until a year or two later.
Use the axe to your 1st draft and not the fine comb.
The latter is for lice!!!


Editor’s Note: I am leaving this poem the way it is written because I believe that, similar to Twain’s Huck Finn, it would lose its symbolism and strength if a word or two were changed to appease the thin-skinned. I also believe, similar to what Poet Nikki Finney stated in the Spring 2011 edition of Poets and Writers, “My responsibility as a poet, as an artist, is to not look away.”