Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Love and Death and Jack Spicer

Last Sunday I was happy to be part of the reading for the new Jack Spicer collected My Vocabulary Did This To Me. The reading at San Francisco Public Library (thanks sfpl!) was put together by Kevin Killian who, with Peter Gizzi, also put together the book. With its gorgeous cover (a still from Threnody by Nick Dorsky), lots of new work and a great introduction, the book really is perfect in all ways. No wonder the first run is almost completely sold out. You can’t help wondering what Spicer would have thought of it all, with his infamous desire to keep his work within the bounds of his particular neighborhood and circle of friends.

To some degree that question was answered by Larry Kearny who read with a sense of unwillingness and doubt that seemed to reflect a commonality with the Jack Spicer he in fact knew. Larry said about Spicer’s work that it had the essential qualities of being haunted, immediate, ecstatic and self-evident. I found there was a lot about death and memory and love in the work, more than I remembered and about as much as I could stand. I was surprised by how emotional I felt to hear poems read aloud that I have been reading and hearing in my head for my whole adult life. Actually, now that I think of it, I feel a bit jealous to share Spicer with the rest of the world. The piece I chose to read from was Billy The Kid. I didn’t get to read the last section, but here it is.

from Billy The Kid


Billy The Kid
I love you
Billy The Kid
I back anything you say
And there was the desert
And the mouth of the river
Billy The Kid
(In spite of your death notices)
There is honey in the groin

Thank you to Kevin and to Peter. And to Jack.

More on the reading.


Blogger H.W. said...

Hey, I just read this section in the NY reading. Shoutout to you, in retrospect.

10:47 PM  

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