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The House That Jack Built: Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer

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The House That Jack Built

Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer

By Peter Gizzi

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Format: Paperback, 290 pages
Published In: United States, 29 July 1998
The House That Jack Built collects for the first time the four historic talks given by controversial poet Jack Spicer just before his early death in 1965. These lively and provocative lectures function as a gloss to Spicer's own poetry, a general discourse on poetics, and a cautionary handbook for young poets. This long-awaited document of Spicer's unorthodox poetic vision, what Robin Blaser has called "the practice of outside," is an authoritative edition of an underground classic.

Peter Gizzi's afterword elucidates some of the fundamental issues of Spicer's poetry and lectures, including the concept of poetic dictation, which Spicer renovates with vocabularies of popular culture: radio, Martians, and baseball; his use of the California landscape as a backdrop for his poems; and his visual imagination in relation to the aesthetics of west-coast funk assemblage. This book delivers a firsthand account of the contrary and turbulent poetics that define Spicer's ongoing contribution to an international avant-garde.

EAN: 9780819563408
ISBN: 0819563404
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 2 centimetres (0.48 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years

About the Author

PETER GIZZI is the author of the poetry collections Artificial Heart (1997) and Periplum (1992), and he is the recipient of a Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets. He is Assistant Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz


A key player in the San Francisco poetry and gay cultures of the 1940s and 1950s, Spicer (The Tower of Babel, Talisman, 1994) had, as editor Gizzi argues somewhat awkwardly, "all the curious attractions one needs to become a cult figure: minor status in his life, alien to most middle-class conventions, unhygienic, singular to a fault, and absolute." Together, these two volumes portray Spicer as a verbose but physically ugly and bad-tempered wretch whom some for whatever reason found magnetic. Part of Spicer's problem (and perhaps his allure) was his perverse antagonism to the glamour of Po Biz: his biographers quote an associate who remembers him saying, "If they think I'm going to be like Allen Ginsberg and fly around and sleep in people's houses and eat their meals, they're crazy." Gizzi (Artificial Heart, Burning Deck, 1994) is a poet and professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and freelance writers Ellingham and Killian are also California-based. Together, their books leave the reader with an impression of someone more important as a key historical figure in the postwar gay, San Francisco, and beat scenes than as a writer with anything approaching the transcendence achieved by the Ginsberg whom Spicer both despised and envied. For major academic collections only.‘David Kirby, Florida State Univ., Tallahassee

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