Manson, Michael Tomasek. "Poetry and Masculinity on the Anglo/Chicano Border." In The Calvinist Roots of the Modern Era, edited by Aliki Barnstone. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1997. Soto, Gary. Letter to Pamela Highet, April 22, 2001.
SPICER, JACK (1925-1965) Jack Spicer was a part of the bohemian movement that flourished in Berkeley and San Francisco after World War II, when such writers as Henry Miller, Kenneth rexroth, and Robert duncan lived there. The san francisco renais sance lasted into the 1960s and included Duncan, Rexroth, William everson, and Lawrence ferlinghetti, among others. Spicer was also associated with writers from black mountain College, such as Robert creeley and Charles olson. While the movement featured many stylistic approaches, its poets tended to focus on language and on a poetic form shaped by the sound and rhythms of the voice; they also tried to make their poetry immediately present to the reader through everyday subject matter, words, and images. They inspired many West Coast writers who were connected with beat poetry, including Gary snyder, Michael mcclure, Philip Lamantia, and Philip whalen. Although Spicer was not well known during his lifetime and avoided the limelight, he did attract a dedicated following of young poets who met with him regularly at his favorite bar.
Spicer was born in southern California. He liked to say that he was born in 1946, the year he met Duncan and Robin blaser at the University of California, Berkeley. He spent the rest of his life in San Francisco, except for brief stays in New York and Boston and a semester of teaching at the University of Minnesota. He worked at Berkeley as a linguistic researcher until his death.
Although Spicer was first published in the 1940s, his first well-known work, After Lorca, appeared in 1957, followed by Homage to Creeley (1959), Billy the Kid (1959), The Heads of the Town up to the Aether (1962), and Language (1965). Much of his work was not in print until after his death, and it now includes lectures, letters, essays, plays, and recordings. Although he was poorly understood in his own lifetime, he now attracts international favor, and his work continues to inspire gay and lesbian writers. Spicer preferred the role of cultural outcast and, similar to so many writers on the cultural margins, he found relief in alcohol, which eventually caused his death.
Spicer sees the acceptance of ambiguity and paradox as the way to what he calls the "real." As he said in his poetic "letters" to Federico Garcia Lorca, "I would like to point to the real, disclose it," and it is the poet's task to use words to "drag the real into the poem," that is, to ranslate those real objects into words (After Lorca 1957). Poetry is a process for Spicer; rather than tapping into the subconscious, the poet receives the idea
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