David Meltzer (1937-2016)

Remembering poet David Meltzer, who died yesterday, aged 79. following a massive stroke (he left “‘like a feather floating into the sky“, as his wife and creative partner Julie Rogers so poignantly described it)

Here‘s David reading from September 2015 at The Poetry Center at San Francisco State University. The full reading (illuminating and invaluable) may be viewed here

Here‘s David reading in September of this year “When I Was A Poet” (the title poem of his “Pocket Poets” City Lights collection

Also from City Lights Two Way Mirror – A Poetry Notebook (originally published by Oyez Press in 1977, 2015)


and San Francisco Beat – Talking With The Poets (2001) – a remarkable, truly remarkable, collection of interviews (including learned discussion with such figures as Diane di Prima, Michael McClure, Joanne Kyger, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen Philip Lamantia, Kenneth Rexroth, Lawrence Ferlighetti and Jack Hirschman 



Author, editor, anthologist (of more than fifty books of poetry and prose), these noted titles are only a fraction of his output. Did we mention his book-length poem on jazz musician Lester Young –  No Eyes – Lester Young  (2000)?

– and, (from 2004) – on Beat culture, Beat Thing ?


Did we mention he was a noted Kabbalist (author of the important kabbalistic poetry magazine Tree in the 1970’s, editor of The Secret Garden; An Anthology in the Kabbalah (Continuum. 1976, reprinted Station Hill,, 1998).

Did we mention his ten novels (of what he depreciatingly called  ‘agit smut”)?


– And we haven’t even begun to mention his central importance as a long-time practicing musician (first, in his early days as a jazz musician – In 1958, he recorded an album of his poems with a jazz combo, released later, many years later, in  2006, on Sierra Records, titled “David Meltzer: Poet with Jazz 1958.”).


Then, in the “Sixties, and perhaps better-known –  Serpent Power (featuring also, on drums, poet Clark Coolidge), recognized, in retrospect, as  one of the defining records of the 1967 “Summer of Love”When that band split, he followed it up two years later, with the record Poet Song (made in collaboration with his then wife, Tina Meltzer)



Serpent Power can be heard –  here and Poet Song – here 

David holds the distinction of being the youngest  voice in Don Allen’s groundbreaking anthology The New American Poetry 1945-1960

Interviews with David  (with David Hadbawnik, 2010), with Steve Luttrell & Timothy Gillis, 2014) and with Jonah Raskin, 2015)  can be read here, here and here

Ron Silliman‘s heartfelt obituary notice may be read here – More obituaries to follow

Meltzerville is David’s website and will reward you with comprehensive information.


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