Michael McClure (1932-2020)

Michael McClure (1932-2020) = photo: Gloria Graham

Sad news. It’s been an appalling year. Poet, playwright, novelist, memoirist, Beat legend, Michael McClure  died at his home this past Monday (May 4th), he was 87. He died, as reported in a lengthy obituary notice in the San Francisco Chronicle,  “from the lingering effects of a stroke he suffered in spring of last year”. His achievements were enormous (too many, far too many, to enumerate here, but we must, at the very least, point out his involvement, alongside Allen, in the legendary Six Gallery reading)  (see also here)

and his reading at San Francisco Zoo to the lions (the primal body discovery – “beast language”

Here‘s Michael talking about that and about his breakthrough drama The Beard 

Here’s an early collection of McClure links we made back in 2011

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

& more McClure birthday celebrations – here and here

Michael McClure interviewed  – (and here and here)

Michael, the rock-star, (famously writing for Janis Joplin (“o lord, won’t you buy me a mercedes benz”)  and befriending The Doors ( Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek)_

Michael McClure, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg outside City Lights – photo: Larry Keenan

Here’s Michael writing for Rolling Stone on Bob Dylan

and in The Last Waltz. reading Chaucer!

Michael and the San Francisco Be-In 

Michael (with Diane di Prima)  remembering and celebrating another landmark moment – 1967 and that summer –  “The Summer of Love”

So much we could point to. So much that could be said.

Here’s Michael & Allen (don’t miss, please don’t miss, this one!) from 1976 at Naropa, reading together, their illuminating  “retrospective” reading

There’ll be more on The Allen Ginsberg Project on the passing of this great spirit in the days ahead. Meanwhile, we honor his memory and deeply mourn his passing.


  1. A very sad passing. I never really got to know Michael, until the mid-80’s. At that time, when in the East Bay, I’d try to see him (unannounced) at his CCAC classes. I’d walk in, day pack on, maybe some M.M. books. He acted as if I was just another student, but it seemed to brighten him. I did that several times for 10 years. Met talented spirit Amy in the process. He couldn’t offer enough, the sign of a deep spirit who truly had learned of our short existence here. Would buy us coffee for talks. Would ask “how’s Gary” (Snyder). I’d say I have no idea; unless I’d seen him & had a good talk. Then I’d tell M.M. of it. He was fond of Sacramento poet D.R. Wagner. Knew him since mid-60’s & knew D.R. was a close friend of mine in Sacramento. Would ask about D.R. every time & sometimes muse about their Sacramento reading along with Jim Morrison. “Ask D.R. about it, Jim”. He was gracious offering nice comments on my Haiku books. We’d exchange books. Saw M.M. last in Davis at Natsoulas Gallery, 2013 I think. Had Ray Manzerek along for jazz piano with his reading. Wonderful. M.M. never put on any airs. Beautiful spirit. I was able to shake Ray’s hand & say” there’s no DOORS without Ray, no way” Ray also unassumingly said “hey, Thanks Man!”. Unforgettable. M.M. will live on in a wild animal (lion) spirit, or, perhaps, a whale spirit, turning circles brilliantly, sun soaked, out off of Point Reyes. I could write a few pages. I’ll end with “my heart is with you, Amy, as Michael moves to the great spirit world.

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