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An Emotional Memoir of Jack Spicer
ISBN 978-1-949966-68-8 178 pages $16.00
Reading this book you won’t learn anything much about Spicer’s poetry. But what is there to learn that isn’t already sitting there on the page in the poems themselves? This is a book about what it means to be alive. About managing to get through life in one piece. About how there are occasions worth remembering. About experiencing that kind of relationship in life that means absolutely everything for the rest of your life.
On a recent visit to San Francisco Kearney was hanging out with poet Duncan McNaughton discussing the writing of this book and McNaughton advised “Don’t lose the encryption.” A modest directive intended to avoid selling out. Don’t ever be of “use” to whatever “authority” gathers attention around your work. In other words, don’t buy into the legend and don’t peddle it either. Kearney isn’t about to.
Duncan told me it was too late, that I was too late, I’d missed Spicer… I slept thru grad school with The Collected Books Of Jack Spicer for my pillow, provoking dreams of writing books of serial poems, book-length poems like Spicer’s, not journal poems… Awoke to the Great Binge of ’98, spending my teacher’s pay on whole shelves of biography/poems/lectures… And thru it all, Jack Spicer the man waited wisely inside Helen Adam’s blurry b/w snapshot and outside of time; it did seem too late to catch up. Until this. Until Larry Kearney’s new portrait, the “emotional memoir,” invites me to sit at Jack Spicer’s table, where I just now overhear him to say: “This is where the poem happens. Here.”
A tour de force, of course it had to be. I’m at a loss to say more.
Larry Kearney was Born in Brooklyn, New York. He moved to San Francisco in ’64 and became involved with the group of poets centered around North Beach and generally and inaccurately described as the San Francisco Renaissance—Spicer, MacInnis, Duerden, Duncan, Brautigan, Stanley, Blaser, Kyger, Meltzer, Hirschman et al. His closest friends in poetry were Jack Spicer and Richard Duerden, and Spicer’s insistence on being willing to, and capable of, saying what the poem wants to say when it wants to say it, endures for him as a working definition—poetry as the whole of the real—the seen and unseen, heard and unheard—the voices of the haunted living and the unsuccessfully dead. He currently lives in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Mouron-sur-Yonne, France.