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Jack Spicer

Jack Spicer Feature  
Christopher W. Alexander :  


THE CURRENT RECEPTION of Jack Spicer's work tends to be broad and also shallow. Most serious poets have read his poems, many extensively; there have been symposia both actual and in published form, a variety of solid essays and insightful memoirs. Despite these remedies, he comes down to us as readers generally in two cloaks or three: as mystic qua si nihilist, whose thematic of the mediumship of the poet has made of him alternately the epitome of a vague supernaturalism and a 'post-identity' writer of the first order; and as formal innovator, whose conception of a poetry in serial form and whose material approach to language have claimed for him a place as (queerly) progenitor in the too-persistently male lineage of contemporary poetry.


      The reprints and essays in this selection attempt to surpass these ready positions in turning back toward Spicer's poetry in its specific historical or intellectual context. From the Hell of Homage to Creeley to the "far, fat Vietnamese jungles," Hawthorne to Herndon to Baudelaire, textual mirroring to the Sunday Meetings, each of these pieces presents a substantial point of re-entry into the work or an account of its usefulness as a point of departure. With two crucial new resources available, Peter Gizzi's edition of Spicer's lectures and Lewis Ellingham and Kevin Killian's biography (both represented here), it's a good time to begin rethinking Spicer's work. I hope that this selection will be found useful.

-- C. Alexander
Buffalo, New York


Christopher W. Alexander lives in Buffalo, New York, where he is studying in the doctoral program in English at SUNY Buffalo. He is the editor of nominative press/neue gedichte and acting moderator of the Poetics List.


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