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Poet Be Like God: Jack Spicer and the San Francisco Renaissance Hardcover – 28 Aug 1998
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"Any book this long and this thorough that is also this readable is a wonder to be praised. Poet, Be Like God makes the art and passion of Jack Spicer luminously legible. This is a grand biography; it is also a deeply searching delineation of an epoch, deploying living and vivid narratives of the San Francisco Renaissance. Here is the life every aspiring poet must know if she or he would risk self and soul in the mills of American art."-- Samuel R. Delany
From the Back Cover
Jack Spicer, unlike his contemporaries Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Gary Snyder, was a poet who disdained publishing and relished his role as a social outcast. He died in 1965 virtually unrecognized, yet in the following years his work and thought have attracted and intrigued an international audience. Now this comprehensive biography gives a pivotal poet his due. Based on interviews with scores of Spicer's contemporaries, Poet Be Like God details the most intimate aspects of Spicer's life - his family, his friends, his lover - illuminating not only the man but also many of his poems. The resultant narrative of the San Francisco Renaissance and the emergence of the North Beach gay scene during the 50s and 60s will be indispensable reading for students of American literature and gay studies.See all Product description
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It's particularly interesting to study the automatic side of Spicer's poetics from surrealism forward -- the relinquishing of choice for a ouija board automaticism that resulted in odd nonsense that probably did not come from the dead, but resulted in an arcane verse that did indeed catalyze some of the lazier aspects of SF poetry but which was a dead end.
Magisterial biography that brings to life a tormented alcoholic who was not even trying to be nice, or even well-dressed, enough, to enter into the public forum.
His best work is the discussions he offered in The House that Jack Built -- astounding to see what he could do when he DID enter into the public conversation. Too often in his poetry he seems to be mumbling to himself. Poets need to reconnect to the real world -- because the world is real -- it has an ecology and texture, and the poets who got this will survive. Others form dead ends into their lost selves.
Gnosticism is a dead end.