On Michael McClure’s Birthday

Michael McClure at the Hartford Street Zen Center, where Philip Whalen was Sensei, August 28, 1991. photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate

From Ghost Tantras in 1967 to Of Indigo and Saffron – New and Selected Poems (2011) (and, indeed, from way before that, and stretching on), Michael McClure‘s muse has been distinctive and remarkable. Michael-McClure.com is the portal but we’d also recommend the Karl Young and John Jacob site, Light and Dust, which features a fine selection of poems and essays by Michael and “considerations” (“the first tier of this gathering appeared in “A Symposium on Michael McClure”, guest edited by John Jacob as part of (a) Margins Symposium Series in 1975. Jacob extended the second tier to include commentary written on McClure since the 1975 gathering, as a means of expanding and updating the discussion” – among those “considering”, Nobel prize-winner Francis Crick, Stan Brakhage (their correspondence may be read here), and Robert Creeley (“Homage to Michael McClure is both pleasure and duty”).
Another valuable account is Steven Fama’s 2010 piece – 17 Reasons Why…I Love The Work of Michael McClure.
PennSound’s Michael McClure page features his Rockdrill CDs, issued by the Contemporary Poetics Research Centre/Optic Nerve for Birkbeck College, 2o05, (“two separate CDs spanning nearly half a century” – 46 tracks – “Rockdrill #9 Ghost Tantras (Poems 1955-1991)” and “Rockdrill #10 Rebel Lions (Poems 1991-2004)”). Alongside that, 2004’s “I Like Your Eyes” (a collaboration with Terry Riley), and two collaborations/albums with Ray Manzarek (“Love Lion” (1993) and “There’s A Word!” (2001)). The collection is rounded out with a 1998 SUNY-Buffalo recording (with an introduction by Robert Creeley).
Video recordings abound. We would cite “Spirits Desperado”, his 2001 UCSD reading, and, from 2008, his reading for the Holloway series at UC Berkeley (he shares the bill with Elizabeth Marie Young). A full page of McClure videos may be accessed here.

McClure and Allen. Michael’s heart-felt tribute, “Why Do I Love Allen?” can be found here. A reading from 1976 that the two of them gave at NAROPA can be heard here and here. Michael was a welcome guest at the summer program (a 5-part workshop in 1978 from that campus can be heard, beginning here). Another delight from the Internet Archive, Charles Amirkhanian’s radio show, where McClure gets to choose and play his favorite music, is available here).

wanna hear McClure reading Chaucer?, try here

wanna to see a young McClure discussing peyote and poetic composition?

Interviews also abound (here‘s one of the most recent ones (with Anis Shivani, in this past March’s Huffington Post)

and essential viewing (we believe), if you can find it, is this – Kurt Hemmer’s documentary film about Michael, Rebel Roar – The Sound of Michael McClure.

In an, indeed, related matter, it’s Arthur Rimbaud‘s birthday too today. Happy Birthday, Michael!, Happy Birthday, Arthur!

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