R.I.P. Michael McClure, 20-Oct-1932 – 4-May-2020

I will never forget meeting Michael McClure, interviewing him in 1995 at the old KZOK-FM studios on Queen Anne Hill, him taking me out for Vietnamese food saying lunch was “on Penguin” (his publisher) and having the poem Dolphin Skull utterly change my life.

I last saw him in December 2019 and he was not doing well, but got the news tonight from Matt Trease that Michael had died: https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/books/michael-mcclure-famed-beat-poet-who-helped-launch-the-sf-renaissance-dead-at-87

Oct 2010 Mt. Constitution, Orcas Island. Photo by Meredith Nelson

I have written much about McClure and the interview we did in 1995 was seminal for me and included in the book American Prophets: Interviews 1994-2012. Hear the interview here: https://paulenelson.com/2012/10/20/happy-80th-michael-mcclure/

Farewell Rebel Lion. The password to heaven, as you know, is GRAHHR!

About Splabman

Paul Nelson is founder of SPLAB (Seattle Poetics LAB) in Seattle, the Cascadia Poetry Festival and the August POetry POstcard Fest (PoPo). www.POPO.cards. He has published a collection of essays, Organic Poetry & a serial poem re-enacting the history of Auburn, WA, A Time Before Slaughter (shortlisted for a 2010 Genius Award by The Stranger) and American Sentences, a book of 17 syllable poems drawn from the first fourteen of his 20 years of daily practice. The tenth anniversary edition of that book includes Pig War: & Other Songs of Cascadia. He’s interviewed Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Wanda Coleman, Anne Waldman, Sam Hamill, Robin Blaser, Nate Mackey, Eileen Myles, George Bowering, Diane di Prima, Brenda Hillman, George Stanley, Joanne Kyger & many Cascadia poets (see: https://paulenelson.com/americanprophets/) has presented his poetry and poetics in London, Brussels, Bothell, Cumberland, BC, Qinghai and Beijing, China, Lake Forest, Illinois, Ukiah, CA, and other places & writes an American Sentence every day. www.PaulENelson.com
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2 Responses to R.I.P. Michael McClure, 20-Oct-1932 – 4-May-2020

  1. Roni Rhys Greenwood says:

    I was working at the Auburn Public Library when Michael McClure did a talk there in the 1990s. He then did a reading at Green River College and I took one of his books- Love Lion-hoping to get it signed. When the reading was over, Michael was surrounded by fans and I stood shyly at the back, thinking I didn’t have the courage to approach him. Then something amazing happened that I will never forget. He looked up at me and asked ME, “May I sign your book?” As if he was doing ME a favor. I believe he recognized and empathized with my extreme shyness. It takes a special person to notice and reach out to a timid person hanging back in a crowd. It takes an extra special person to even bother when he had enough talkative fans to keep him busy. Michael McClure was so gracious and kind to me that day that I will love him forever.

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