Michael McClure

Michael McClure is one of the major figures of the Beat Generation. Besides reading at the famous San Francisco Six Gallery Reading where Ginsberg first read “Howl,” he was fictionalized in Jack Kerouac’s novel Big Sur. McClure is a captivating reader and performer (he recited from The Canterbury Tales in Martin Scorcese’s The Last Waltz) and his collaboration with The Doors’ keyboardist Ray Manzarek and contemporary composer Terry Riley are now legendary. A native of Kansas who grew up by the “blue-black waters” of Puget Sound, Michael McClure is a poet, playwright, novelist, essayist. He co-wrote the Janis Joplin hit “Mercedes Benz,” and overcame the censorship laws with his Obie winning play The Beard. Another drama based on a Kafka parable, Josephine: The Mouse Singer received the Obie for Best Play. McClure’s passions are biology and the arts. He has travelled in East Africa and Mexico as part of his field studies. McClure writes poetry in Projective Verse as a part of his action philosophy. His essays are primarily on the subjects of biology and studies of his artist friends including Robert Duncan, Jim Morrison, and Isamu Noguchi. He has produced two documentaries, and received awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rockefeller grant for playwriting, and the Alfred Jarry award.

Mysteriosos

Poetry by Michael McClure

Mysteriosos and Other Poems, Michael McClure’s newest book of poetry, explores the last seven years. These new poems speak of working toward freedom and beauty during a time of interminable war and the destruction of our natural surroundings. In the Introduction, McClure clarifies his playfulness with time, how within the moment of his writing all moments and memories exist. His “willingness of unwearied senses to be what they perceive” as Anne Waldman says, opens our perceptions.…
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Rain Mirror

Poetry by Michael McClure

“Rain Mirror,” writes Michael McClure, “stands as my most bare and forthright book. It contains two long poems, ’Haiku Edge’ and ’Crisis Blossom,’ which are quite disparate from one another.” Together, the poems complement each other as do light and dark. “Haiku Edge” is a poem of linked haiku, often humorous, sometimes harsh, and always elegant. “Crisis Blossom,” in contrast, is a long poem in three parts that records the author’s “state of psyche, capillaries, muscles, fears, boldnesses, and hungers down where they exist without management,” and the months of shock and recovery during a psychophysical meltdown.…
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Simple Eyes

Poetry by Michael McClure

The running theme in Michael McClure’s Simple Eyes & Other Poems is: looking at the world directly. The results are often as disquieting as they are illuminating, whether he directs his unblinking gaze on the American cityscape, the landscapes of Mexico and Kenya, or the mind’s own terrain. In the long title poem, “Simple Eyes (Fields),” the stanzas on the Persian Gulf War bloom out of images of all wars the poet has known––”the spiritual wars, the napalm and cordite and nuclear wars, and the war against nature”––and become a kind of spiritual autobiography.…
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Rebel Lions

Poetry by Michael McClure

Rebel Lions, Michael McClure’s first book of poetry since the retrospective Selected Poems (1985), spans a decade of profound personal change and poetic evolution for the author. In an introductory note, he provides a backdrop for the collection, which moves from old life to new. McClure’s work bursts forth from the matrix of the physical and spiritual. “Poetry is one of the edges of consciousness,” he asserts. “And consciousness is a real thing like the hoof of a deer or the smell of a bush of blackberries at the roadside in the sun.…
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Selected Poems of Michael McClure

Poetry by Michael McClure

“Poetry,” Michael McClure has said, “is not a system but is real events spoken of, or happening, in sounds.” And for thirty years, whether in his early “Dionysian” lyrics or his evolving “bio-alchemical” wisdom, his work has shown a ferocious energy and driving physicality. A poet of and for our time, his own formal structures—the shape of his poems and his highly charged breath-line—nevertheless look back to the classics, to the Provençal troubadours, and to the Romantic verse of Blake, Keats, and Shelley.…
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Fragments Of Perseus

Poetry by Michael McClure

“NOW IT IS TIME FOR A NATION,/ a spiritual Nation/based/and formed on open freedom,/on flesh and biology…” The antipolitical activism, biologically based aesthetics, and exuberantly sensuous spirituality that have won Michael McClure acclaim since the birth of the San Francisco poetry renaissance in 1955 are affirmed with new range and eloquence in Fragments of Perseus. The title poem presents fragments of an imaginary journal by Perseus, son of Zeus and Danae, slayer of the snake-haired Medusa, and husband of Andromeda.…
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Josephine: The Mouse Singer

Poetry by Michael McClure

Michael McClure’s Josephine: The Mouse Singer, a play in verse, is based on a story of Franz Kafka’s, “Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk.” Kafka and McClure? And yet the combination is bound to work, for in essence both writers in their different ways ponder the trials of the artist in an arbitrary universe. McClure’s exuberant, inspired adaptation, in fact, reminds us of the bizarre whimseys Kafka’s tales were originally intended to be.…
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Antechamber And Other Poems

Poetry by Michael McClure

Antechamber and Other Poems, Michael McClure’s latest book with New Directions, joins a growing list of contributions that includes the verse collection September Blackberries (1974) and Jaguar Skies (1975) as well as the musical play Gorf (1976). His writing in recent years is “alchemical” in its intent, yet his twin declarations, “Biology Is Politics” and “I Am A Mammal Patriot,” perhaps express more accurately both the universality of his outlook and its humane particularity.…
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Gorf

Theater by Michael McClure

Readers of Michael McClure’s play Gorf may be reminded of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, even if dancing TV sets and the “Middle American” protagonists Mert and Gert bring the surreal effect down to native ground. On another level Gorf is a ritual of regeneration, or, if you like, a kind of spiritualized Hellzapoppin. The “murdered” Mert and Gert are reborn in the search for their child, the Shitfer, who disintegrated when “hurled through Time and Space” is resurrected as his discrete “pieces” find and recognize their unity.…
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Jaguar Skies

Poetry by Michael McClure

“Perhaps the crux of all writing is to find the word that describes what the eye has seen and the mind imagined,” says Josephson Nicholson in Rolling Stone. “Judged on that basis, Michael McClure’s … most recent books are as good as anything going. Their advantage is Sheer Scope.” In Jaguar Skies McClure reaffirms the biological intelligence, indeed the active principle, at the heart of his own work. As the book demonstrates so clearly, the exuberant resonances of his verse approach cosmic echoings, while the precise patterns mirror the intricate pulsations of molecules and stars.…
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September Blackberries

Poetry by Michael McClure

“Poetry and theatre are organisms and biological extensions of the artist,” says Michael McClure. “My unusual line and shape of poems is a feedback between poems as living beings and knowledge of traditional shapes. I believe in inspiration. I am especially fond of wild flowers, mastodons, and stars.” In September Blackberries, a collection of seventy-five of his recent poems, McClure demonstrates this “bio-alchemical” aesthetic with his usual prodigious verbal energy. Readers familiar with the work of the Beat Generation and the San Francisco Renaissance will recognize at once, in such long sequences as “The Skull,” “Xes,” and “We,” the poet’s characteristic typographic display, the breath-line that verges on the primal scream.…
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