How to be a literary tourist in San Diego


Rae Armantrout is an American poet generally associated with Language poetry. Armantrout was born in Vallejo, California but grew up in San Diego. She was the 2010 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Poetry for her collection Versed, a Guggenheim Fellow and the Recipient of a National Book Critics Circle Award. Armantrout teaches at the University of California, San Diego, where she is Professor of Poetry and Poetics. Her most recent collection, Partly: New and Selected Poems, was published by Wesleyan University Press in 2016.

We met to discuss her poetry, William Carlos Williams, place, and how to be a literary tourist in San Diego. Please listen here:

If you fancy experiencing literary San Diego, click here for tourist information.

Why tell the truth about yourself?

Approach the New York Public Library from the east and walk along 41st Street. You’ll have a perfect view of the library and you can stop, lower your gaze to the pavement, and read some inspirational quotes about reading, writing, and literature along the way. Like this one by Virginia Woolf:

Here are some more quotes you’ll find on ‘Library Way’, before arriving at the NYPL.

What they don’t tell you about Victor Hugo’s home in Paris

Marble bust of Victor Hugo by David d’Angers

Victor Hugo lived on the second floor of the Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée in Paris from 1832 to 1848. He wrote some of his major works here, including a large part of Les Misérables…and received, among many friends, Lamartine, Vigny, Dumas, and Gautier, along with other noted writers and artists. But he didn’t just dine with them. Apparently he had peepholes installed into guest bedrooms so he could watch their amorous activities. Hugo in fact did more than watch. His mistress Juliet estimated that in one two year period he had sex with more than 200 different women.

The 5/6 room apartment at Place des Vosges presents three separate periods in Hugo’s life: before, during and after exile in Guernsey. You’ll find displays of the gothic furniture he designed, family portraits, memorabilia and some astonishing interior decoration he designed during his exile. There are temporary exhibitions of his photographs and drawings, and first editions of various famous books he wrote. A library is open to the public by appointment. The museum organizes talks in the apartment, and provides guided tours. Plus, entry is free. A visit here gives you a sense of what a multi-talented colossus the man was!

For more information, click here.

Audio: The Literary Tourist and the Flaneur


I interviewed Lauren Elkin about her new book Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London at her apartment in the Belleville neighbourhood of Paris. It was an interesting conversation. The more I think about it, the more the Flaneur/Flaneuse and the Literary Tourist seem alike, particularly when it comes to use of the imagination.