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

May 5, 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!


  1. Roni Rhys Greenwood

    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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