Michael McClure, reading at Moe’s in Berkeley

May 19, 2010

Michael read to a partisan crowd at the legendary Moe’s Books in Berkeley on Wednesday, May 19, 2010. The audio available here, skips past the introduction and the assorted GRAHHRS offered by the audience as Michael is welcomed to the mic.

He read from his latest, Mysteriosos, which John Olson reviewed here. McClure is revealed at the top of his game with this book and the reading confirms it. Charles Olson articulated the process of composition which has enabled McClure’s stunning gesture in his essay Projective Verse, Olson was not able to accomplish what McClure has done. McClure started writing projectively in the 1950’s at about age 22 and 55 years later, continues to mine this process, writing some of his best work.

Olson, on the other hand, died at 60 after coming to poetry later in life and knew he needed another ten years to accomplish what he had set out to do.

Likewise, Robert Duncan, another one of McClure’s guides, took a 15 year break from publishing to reveal Ground Work: Before the War / In The Dark, a project which did not have the same energy and potency of three earlier books, The Opening of the Field, Roots and Branches and Bending the Bow.

My review of Mysteriosos is forthcoming in the Pacific Rim Review of Books, but in the meantime, enjoy the audio of McClure in Berkeley, and remember that you are an animal connected to everything that was with the power to shape that which will be.

(More on my take on Projective Verse is available here.)

About Splabman

Poet & interviewer Paul E Nelson founded SPLAB (Seattle Poetics LAB) & the Cascadia Poetry Festival. Since 1993, SPLAB has produced hundreds of poetry events & 600 hours of interview programming with legendary poets & whole systems activists including Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Joanne Kyger, Robin Blaser, Diane di Prima, Daphne Marlatt, Nate Mackey, George Bowering, Barry McKinnon, José Kozer, Brenda Hillman & many others. Paul’s books include American Prophets (interviews 1994-2012) (2018) American Sentences (2015) A Time Before Slaughter (2009) and Organic in Cascadia: A Sequence of Energies (2013). Co-Editor of Make It True: Poetry From Cascadia (2015), 56 Days of August: Poetry Postcards (2017) and Samthology: A Tribute to Sam Hamill (2019) Make it True meets Medusario (2019), he’s presented poetry/poetics in London, Brussels, Nanaimo, Qinghai & Beijing, China, has had work translated into Spanish, Chinese & Portuguese & writes an American Sentence every day. Awarded a residency at The Lake, from the Morris Graves Foundation in Loleta, CA, he’s published work in Golden Handcuffs Review, Zen Monster, Hambone, and elsewhere. Winner of the 2014 Robin Blaser Award from The Capilano Review, he is engaged in a 20 year bioregional cultural investigation of Cascadia and lives in Rainier Beach, in the Cascadia bioregion’s Cedar River watershed.
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