McClure, Michael.

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Michael McClure was an American poet, playwright, songwriter, and novelist, and part of the Beat Generation of poetry. He was one of five authors who read at the famous San Francisco Six Gallery reading, and became close with Jack Kerouac, being immortalized as Pat McLean in Big Sur. He is known as the Prince of the Frisco Scene.

From the guide to the Michael McClure letter to Diane di Prima, September 1968, (Ohio University)

San Francisco-based Beat poet and playwright Michael McClure was born in Marysville, Kansas, in 1932. His collections of poetry include Star (1970), September Blackberries (1974), Jaguar Skies (1975) and Antechamber (1978). McClure’s plays are in the avant-garde tradition and include The Beard (1965), Gargoyle Cartoons (1971), Gorf (1971) and Josephine: The Mouse Singer (1980). McClure received several honors and awards, including an Obie for Josephine: The Mouse Singer , the Pushcart Prize for Poetry (1991), and an award for lifetime achievement in poetry from the National Poetry Association (1993).

"Michael (Thomas) McClure." Contemporary Authors Online (reproduced in Biography Resource Center). http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC (accessed October 2005).

From the guide to the Michael McClure correspondence with Arthur and Kit Knight, 1973–1981, (University of Delaware Library - Special Collections)

Biographical Information

Poet, playwright, novelist, and essayist Michael McClure has spread his literary net wide, but is best known as one of the leading poets of the Beat generation. Born in Marysville, Kansas on October 20, 1932, McClure became intimately associated with the counter-culture of the West coast. His childhood was initially spent in the environs of Seattle, Washington, but McClure and family were to return to Kansas where he finished high school and attended college, first at the University of Wichita, Kansas and then the University of Arizona. He finished his studies in San Francisco, receiving his Bachelor of Arts from San Francisco State College in June of 1955. During this time he studied with poet Robert Duncan.

On October 7, 1955, at the Six Gallery in San Francisco, McClure, along with Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen and Philip Lamantia, shared the bohemian literary spotlight in what became the most famous poetry reading event of the Beat generation. The reading was followed by the publication of McClure's books of poems, Passages (1956), For Artaud, Hymns to St. Geryon (1959), Dark Brown, The New Book/A Book of Torture (1961), and Ghost Tantras (1964) and his first book of essays, Meat Science Essays (1963). But it was McClure's controversial play, The Beard (1965), an imaginary erotic encounter in a blue velvet eternity between 30s Hollywood star, Jean Harlow and Wild West outlaw, Billy the Kid, which catapulted him into the national spotlight while highlighting the debate of artistic expression versus obscenity.

The late 1960s saw McClure expand his notoriety by befriending Jim Morrison of The Doors (they co-authored a film script based on McClure's novel, The Adept (1971) in which Morrison was to star). He became an intimate with Hell's Angels' secretary, Frank Reynolds (co-authoring his memoirs) and even co-wrote the chart-topping rock/pop song, "Mercedes Benz", made famous by singer Janis Joplin.

McClure's creative collaborations often bore fruitful and inspired aesthetic results. His long relationship, from the 50s through the 80s, with artist and filmmaker Bruce Conner resulted in several enigmatic poetry/image publications, a early video project made for public television entitled, Liberty Crown (1967), and a sound recording of McClure reading Ghost Tantras outside the lion's cages at the San Francisco Zoo. During the 70s, McClure worked intensively with John Lion, General Director of the Magic Theater in San Francisco, producing numerous McClure plays. Since the late 1980s, his partnership with former Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek has allowed McClure to expand upon the intersection of music and the spoken word. Most recently, composer Terry Riley wrote the musical score for the revival of McClure's play, Josephine: The Mouse Singer .

McClure's emphasis as a writer has been the attempt to heal, if not subvert, the Cartesian mind/body split. Man is "meat" not mentality. Influenced by Blake and Whitman, McClure's poetry developed quite early into a highly visual, ecstatic, and spontaneous form that reflected his deeply felt belief that humanity is not separate from the fabric and often coarse function of nature, that there is a deep connection between biology and mysticism, flesh and spirit. As McClure explained in his foreword to Jaguar Skies (1975): Poetry is a muscular principle- an athletic song or whisper of flashy thought. We can be as serious as blue-black gloom or bright as a buttercup in the dawn. The spirit of poetry is loops we send out from the expanding helix of our lives. With poetry we can meet an old perception on a mountain top or in a subway, or view a new perception loping in the distance like a wolf- or glimmering like an opal in the twilight.

To these ends, McClure combined ideas from Antonin Artaud and the projective verse tradition of Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and Robert Duncan for creating his "body language," the use of animal noises, growls, and cries most explicitly given voice in his book of poems, Ghost Tantras . Throughout his career McClure, like friend and poet, Gary Snyder, has championed environmental awareness and holistic living by making impassioned pleas toward the defense of nature through the vehicle of his poetry and essays, for example, Wolf Net . McClure's deep and sensitive understanding of Eastern philosophy and religion, namely Buddhism, has also been a steady underpinning of his work and thought as has his lifelong interest in biology.

The late 60s and 1970s were a fertile period in McClure's development as a playwright. During this period he wrote numerous works of often satirical, humorous bent that bordered on the Dadaistic, including, Gorf, whose hero is a flying purple phallus, and a series of small plays under the rubric of Gargoyle Cartoons . His plays often premiered at the Bay Area's Magic Theater, and many were produced in venues nationally and internationally. McClure received a Rockefeller Grant in playwriting in 1974 and in 1978 was awarded an Obie Award for best play for the Off-Broadway production of Josephine: The Mouse Singer . Despite his success in theater and its concomitant demands, McClure never ceased writing poetry. He published books of collected poems, Star (1970) and September Blackberries (1974), and the long single poem, Rare Angel (1974). These were followed by the publications of the books of poems, Jaguar Skies (1975) and Antechamber, & other poems (1978). McClure was even able to find the time to publish his first novel, the autobiographical The Mad Cub (1970) and quickly followed one year later with The Adept , whose anti-hero is a handsome, narcissistic drug dealer.

The following decade was no less busy for McClure. He was to compile and publish a new series of essays, Scratching the Beat Surface (1982) and three books of poems, Fragments of Perseus (1983), Fleas (1985), and Specks (1985). By the mid-80s his long marriage to Joanna McClure (herself a poet) began unraveling and the couple divorced in 1986. At this time McClure met the artist, Amy Evans, whom he married in 1997. In 1988, McClure began working collaboratively with longtime friend, Ray Manzarek, after both were billed at an event at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, California where McClure was headlining and Manzarek played piano with poet Michael C. Ford. Since then, McClure and Manzarek have performed nationally in a variety of venues ranging from cafes to college campuses, and television, and have produced several videos of their performance events.

The 1990s saw McClure's energy pour forth into ever more published work, including the book of poems, Rebel Lions (1991) and another collection of essays, which included interviews, Lighting the Corners: on Art, Nature, and the Visionary (1993). Most recently McClure has been focusing his poetic concerns on Buddhist themes and ideas in the two books of poems, Touching the Edge: Dharma Devotions from the Hummingbird Sangha (1999) and Plum Stones: Cartoons of No Heaven (2002). Michael McClure continues to give poetry readings, as he has done regularly throughout his career, and currently (2006) lives in Oakland, California with his wife, Amy Evans McClure.

From the guide to the Michael McClure papers : additions, 1874-2003, bulk 1949-2002, (The Bancroft Library)

Michael McClure was an American poet, playwright, essayist, and novelist. Born in 1932 in Marysville, Kansas, McClure attended Wichita State University (1951-1953) and the University of Arizona (1953-1954) but received his B.A. from San Francisco State College in 1955.

McClure taught at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, first as assistant professor (1962-1977) and then as associate professor (1977) and finally professor of humanities. He spent a year as lecturer at the State University of New York at Buffalo (1979) before accepting a position as associate fellow at Pierson College, Yale University (1982). He also served on the board of directors of the Drylands Institute, an environmental research organization in Tucson, Arizona.

He is the author of more than forty collections of poetry, with translations of his work into has been translated into German, French, and Yugoslavian.

From the guide to the Michael McClure Papers, 1956-1964, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

Michael McClure was born in Kansas and educated there and in Arizona and California. He is author of numerous books of poems and plays, including "The Beard". He is one of the best-known poets and playwrights of the so-called "Beat Generation". He began teaching at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland in 1962, and has since risen to the rank of Professor. The University of Victoria Libraries Special Collections has a mandate to acquire literary papers.

From the description of Michael McClure collection. [1955-1971]. (University of Victoria Libraries). WorldCat record id: 651603162

American poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright.

From the description of Michael McClure papers : additions, circa 1972. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 26872319

From the description of Michael McClure papers, circa 1963-1975. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 122403345

Poet and playwright, of San Francisco, Calif.; member of the beat generation; b. 1932.

From the description of Michael McClure papers, 1964-1975 (bulk 1964-1971). (University of Connecticut). WorldCat record id: 28418335

American dramatist, poet, and novelist.

From the description of Michael McClure letter to Diane di Prima September 1968. (Ohio University). WorldCat record id: 13048689

American poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright. McClure was one of five poets who read at the famous Six Gallery reading in San Francisco in 1955, when Allen Ginsberg read his work "Howl." The event is seen in retrospect as the beginning of Beat. McClure, along with Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, are still associated with the Beat Generation and the later San Francisco poetry movement. McClure published his first book, Passage, in 1956; he has produced 16 books of poetry, six collections of essays, two novels, and ten plays, including the Obie-winning Josephine the Mouse Singer and The Beard.

From the description of Michael McClure papers : additions, 1874-2003 (bulk 1949-2002). (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 215363520

From the description of Michael McClure letter : New York, N.Y., to David Meltzer, San Francisco, Calif., [1961 Aug 31]. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 427897294

American poet, playwright, songwriter, and novelist. After moving to San Francisco as a young man, he found fame as one of the five poets who read at the 1955 San Francisco Six Gallery. McClure became a key member of the Beat Generation. Robert A. Wilson, the addressee, took over the Phoenix Book Shop in 1962 and remained there until it closed in 1988.

From the description of Michael McClure letter, [manuscript], [1964?] (Indiana University). WorldCat record id: 488687034

Poet.

McClure was born in 1932.

From the description of Papers, 1958-1968. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122571388

Archival Resources
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creatorOf Michael McClure letter to Diane di Prima, September 1968 Ohio University
creatorOf McClure, Michael. Letter, 1968 Oct. 1, San Francisco, to David Gitin, San Francisco. Ball State University Library, Bracken Library
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Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Actor's Workshop (San Francisco) corporateBody
associatedWith Aldan, Daisy. person
associatedWith Aldan, Daisy, 1923- person
associatedWith Alexander, Bob, 1923-1987. person
associatedWith Alexander, Robert, 1923-1987. person
associatedWith Allen, Donald, 1912-2004. person
associatedWith American Civil Liberties Union. corporateBody
associatedWith Baldwin, Gordon, 1939- person
associatedWith Baraka, Amiri, 1934- person
associatedWith Baraka, Amiri, 1934- person
associatedWith Barkl, Michael. person
associatedWith Barkl, Michael, 1958-. person
associatedWith Batman Gallery corporateBody
associatedWith Batman Gallery. corporateBody
associatedWith Bergé, Carol, 1928- person
associatedWith Berkson, Bill. person
associatedWith Berman, Wallace, 1926-1976. person
associatedWith Black Sparrow Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Brakhage, Stan. person
correspondedWith Brandi, John. person
associatedWith Brown, Joan, 1938-1990, person
associatedWith Camels coming (San Francisco, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Charters, Ann. person
correspondedWith Clements, Marshall person
associatedWith Coleman, Ornette. person
associatedWith Conjunctions. corporateBody
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correspondedWith Corbett, William, 1942- person
associatedWith Creeley, Robert, 1926-2005. person
associatedWith Crick, Francis, 1916-2004 person
associatedWith Crick, Francis, 1916-2004. person
associatedWith DeFeo, Jay, 1929-1989. person
correspondedWith Di Prima, Diane person
associatedWith Di Prima, Diane. person
associatedWith Di Prima, Diane, Archives person
correspondedWith Dorn, Edward. person
correspondedWith Doyle, Kirby person
associatedWith Doyle, Kirby. person
associatedWith Duncan, Robert, 1919-1988. person
associatedWith Eigner, Larry, 1927- person
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associatedWith Eisenlord, William J. person
associatedWith Factory Theatre Lab Archives. corporateBody
correspondedWith Fagin, Larry. person
associatedWith Felver, Christopher, 1946- person
associatedWith Ferlinghetti, Lawrence. person
associatedWith Fixel, Lawrence. person
associatedWith Gartenberg, Max. person
associatedWith Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997 person
associatedWith Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997. person
associatedWith Gitin David person
associatedWith Gitin, David. person
associatedWith Gold, Herbert, 1924- person
associatedWith Goliard Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Grove Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Hanuman books. corporateBody
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associatedWith Hell's Angels corporateBody
associatedWith Hell's Angels. corporateBody
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associatedWith Irby, Kenneth, 1936- person
associatedWith Jaffe, James S. person
associatedWith Jaffe, James S. person
associatedWith Jahrmarkt, William person
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correspondedWith Jordan Davies. corporateBody
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associatedWith Jordan, Patricia M., 1937-1989. person
associatedWith Kaufman, Alan. person
associatedWith Keenan, Larry. person
associatedWith Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969. person
associatedWith Knight, Arthur. person
associatedWith Knight, Glee, 1947- person
associatedWith Knight, Kit. person
associatedWith Koller, James. person
correspondedWith Koller, James. person
associatedWith Kronos Quartet. corporateBody
associatedWith Kurtzman, Allan H. person
associatedWith Kurtzman, Allan H. person
correspondedWith Lamantia, Philip, 1927-2005 person
associatedWith Lamantia, Philip, 1927-2005. person
associatedWith Lavigne, Robert. person
associatedWith LaVigne, Robert, 1928- person
associatedWith Magic Theatre (San Francisco, CA) corporateBody
associatedWith Magic Theatre (San Francisco, CA) corporateBody
associatedWith Magic Theatre (San Francisco, CA) corporateBody
associatedWith Mailer, Norman. person
associatedWith Malanga, Gerard. person
associatedWith Marlowe, Alan. person
correspondedWith Martin, John, person
associatedWith Martin, John, 1930- person
associatedWith McArthur, Bill. person
associatedWith Meltzer, David. person
associatedWith Miles, Barry, 1943- person
associatedWith Miles, Barry, 1943- person
associatedWith Modern Poetry Association corporateBody
associatedWith Muir, Doug. person
associatedWith New American Poetry Circuit corporateBody
associatedWith New American Poetry Circuit (Organization) corporateBody
associatedWith New Directions Publishing Corp. corporateBody
associatedWith New Directions Publishing Corp. corporateBody
associatedWith New York Shakespeare Festival corporateBody
associatedWith Neyman, Michael person
associatedWith Neyman, Michael. person
associatedWith Nowinski, Ira. person
associatedWith Ogar, Richard, 1941- person
associatedWith Online Archive of California. corporateBody
correspondedWith Oppenheimer, Joel person
associatedWith Orlovsky, Peter, 1933- person
associatedWith Orlovsky, Peter, 1933-2010. person
associatedWith Ossman, David, 1936- person
associatedWith Oyez Press corporateBody
associatedWith Pa'lante. corporateBody
associatedWith Papp, Joseph person
associatedWith Parkinson, Thomas Francis, 1920- person
associatedWith Parkinson, Thomas Francis, 1920- person
associatedWith Patchen, Kenneth, 1911-1972 person
correspondedWith Phoenix Book Shop corporateBody
associatedWith Pierrepont Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Pinelli, Joe. person
associatedWith Pivano, Fernanda. person
associatedWith Pomegranate Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Rosenthal, Irving, 1930- person
associatedWith Rosenthal, Irving, 1930- person
associatedWith Savage, Stephen M. person
associatedWith Schocken Books. corporateBody
associatedWith Sherick, Michael J. person
correspondedWith Snyder, Gary person
associatedWith Solnit, Rebecca. person
associatedWith St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery (New York, N.Y.). Theatre Genesis. corporateBody
associatedWith Waldman, Anne, 1945-. person
associatedWith Wallace Berman person
associatedWith Wallrich, Larry. person
correspondedWith Whalen, Philip person
correspondedWith Whalen, Philip. person
associatedWith Whalen, Philip. person
associatedWith Whalen, Philip. person
associatedWith Wieners, John, 1934- person
correspondedWith Wilson, Robert A. (Robert Alfred), 1922- person
associatedWith Wilson, Robert A. (Robert Alfred), 1922- person
associatedWith Wodening, Jane, 1936- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
California--San Francisco Bay Area
California
California
San Francisco (Calif.)
California
Santa Barbara (Calif.)
United States
New York (N.Y.)
Subject
Literature--American Poetry
American literature--20th century
Bohemianism--United States
Beat generation--Sources
Theater--Censorship
Radicalism
Poets
Beat generation--Correspondence
American poetry--20th century
Women poets, American--20th century
Beat generation--Poetry
Dramatists, American--20th century
Authors, American--20th century--Correspondence
Literature publishing
Literature--American Fiction
Poets, American--20th century
Beat generation--History--Sources
Poetry--Editing
Publishers and Publishing
American drama--20th century
African American poets--20th century
Literature, experimental
Poets, American--Biographies
Poets, American--20th century--Sources
Bohemianism
Authors, American--20th century
Literary agents
Authors and publishers
Poets, American
Poetry, Modern--20th century
Beat generation
Poets, American--20th century--Correspondence
Dramatists, American--Biography
Occupation
Editors
Dramatists
Poets
Poets, American
Dramatists, American--California
Poets, American--California
Function

Person

Birth 1932-10-20

Active 1920

Active 1977

Americans

English

Information

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SNAC ID: 84220372