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My Vocabulary Did This To Me: The Collected Poetry (2008)

My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry (2008)

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4.5 of 5 Votes: 5
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0819568872 (ISBN13: 9780819568878)
Wesleyan University Press

About book My Vocabulary Did This To Me: The Collected Poetry (2008)

How could I give this 4 stars? Am I some kind of idiot? Well, I think this reflects my frustration with collecteds in general. This was my first introduction to Spicer and I was struck by how familiar his voice was to me already--filtered as it has been to various degrees through many, many contemporary voices via the speaky casualness of the line, the turns of the language into pranky nonsense, sharp juxtapositions between high and low speech -- "Dead branches. Leaves / unable even to grimly seize their rightful place in the tree / of the heart / Annoys me / Arthur, king and future king / A noise in the head of the prince. Something in God-language. / In spite of all this horseshit, this uncomfortable music." This familiarity made my reading of large swathes of the first 2/3rds of the book underwhelming. And what distinguishes Spicer from many of his contemporary interpreters (who often mix these habits also with mild surrealism whereas Spicer's images tend to still come from the world), is his pursuit of a theme(?) over the sequence of several poems, providing a baseline from which he can improvise away from and then return. His works work so damn well in holding each other up, that I hated to see anything missing. And I didn't really come to miss what was missing until I read The Holy Grail, Golem, and Book of Magazine Verse. Cheryl and I walked down the super shitty boardwalk at Ocean City reading "Seven Poems for the Vancouver Festival" and they knocked us out. --"A perfect diamond with a right field, center field, left field of / felled logs spreading vaguely outward. Four sides each / Facets of the diamond. / We shall build our city backward from each baseline / extending like a square ray from each distance--you from / the ..." growing up in berkeley, and having some adolescent interest in both romantic and modernist poetry, i should have heard of jack spicer. but i hadn't. i cannot explain this. anyways i ran into his poem "Orfeo" somewhere (on a fucking bus maybe ?!?!) and i immediately bought this on the internet. it is great. it is a collection of all JS's published poetry as well as a lot of notebook stuff; as with all such completist editions, it contains a lot of things that i'm sure the author would never have wanted to go into print. i'm still glad to have this opportunity to indulge in unabashed, gay-60's, romantic, lyrical-yet-analytical poetry. there is irony in there but it is so different from our contemporary, infinitely re-reflected, image-conscious variety. this poetry has a great sense of intimacy, you can tell it was written for friends, not for an audience, not for the internet. none of the irony or erudition prevents jack spicer from acheiving total honesty and some of the most indelible images i've personally ever read ("i throw a naked eagle down your throat.") insipring.

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A great volume introducing the major works of one of the Berkeley Renaissance's driving engines.

This edition has the Letters to James Alexander, so charming.

i don't care if it's the It book, it's gooooood.

Famous last words.

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