In this collection of essays, poet anad playwright Michael McClure reviews his own career and the contributions of his contemporaries over the past three decades to develop a new perception of art as a living “bio-alchemical organism.”
Included are poems by Charles Olson, Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Whalen, Robert Creeley, Jack Kerouac, Hart Crane, and others, as well as selections from McClure’s own work. The poems, selected with remarkable sensitivity, form integral parts of the arguments advanced in the essays.
In Part One, McClure traces the development of concerns raised in the fifties by writers associated with the San Francisco Renaissance, New York School, and Black Mountain. He describes his first exposure to biophysical thinking through such figures as Francis Crick and discusses the association of nature and art that was developed by Ginsberg, Snyder and Whalen. He goes on to develop his conception of the poem as a physical extension of the body and to explore the biological basis of poetry, drawing on readings of such poems as Paul Blackburn’s “The Search,” Charles Olson’s “Maximus,” and Hart Crne’s “A Name for All.”
The second part of the book, “Wolf Net,” explores the ramifications of the animal nature of human beings and the consequences of respecting that animality. This winde-ranging and suggestive essay raises new questions regarding the place of man within the total ecological system of life forms.
The book concludes with “Hail Thee Who Play,” a poem of joy and affirmation that is both a completion and a new beginning.
Publisher: North Point Press
With photographs by Larry Keenan
Publisher: Penguin Books