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Wednesday March 31, 2010 in Books
Jack Spicer, the barroom soothsayer of the “Berkeley Renaissance,” forged a new kind of poetry with Robert Duncan and Robin Blaser in the decade 1945–1955, grounded in their “queer genealogy” of Arthur Rimbaud, Federico García Lorca and other gay writers. Beginning his famous serial poem, After Lorca, in 1956, Spicer described it to Robin Blaser a year later:
I enclose my eight latest “translations.” Transformations might be a better word. Several are originals and most of the rest change the poem vitally. I can’t seem to make anybody understand this or what I’m doing. They look blank or ask what the Spanish is for a word that isn’t in the Spanish or praise (like Duncan did) an original poem as typically Lorca. What I am trying to do is establish a tradition. When I’m through … I’d like someone as good as I am to translate these translations into French (or Pushtu) adding more. Do you understand? No. Nobody does.
Clearly, Spicer had not anticipated the birth of Garry Thomas Morse.
Not merely an homage to Jack Spicer, but also a tribute to his Orphic conception of the serial poem, After Jack is a palimpsestuous attempt to achieve the dark art of nekuia, to encourage the means of poetic transmission and to divine the polyphony of both Federico García Lorca and Jack Spicer as their voices interweave, transform and become inexorably entangled with a fresh and undeniably peculiar, disturbingly profane authorial voice.
Only via the enchanted act of re:writing can Billy the Kid make explicit the homosexual subtext of Gore Vidal’s 1955 TV play The Left-Handed Gun, or Walt Whitman turn into an apocalyptic ﬁgure, or the knights of the Round Table turn into the enlightened circle of the poet’s friends. But then, as Jack said, “we were never friends.”
Read a poem from this collection on Meta-Talon.
ISBN 13: 9780889226302 | ISBN 10: 088922630X
6 W x 9 H inches | 160 pages
$19.95 CAN / $19.95 US
Backlist | Poetry | Bisac: POE011000
QUOTES OF NOTE
"In After Jack, Morse has stepped firmly onto the ground occupied by George Bowering’s Kerrisdale Elegies, where translation crosses boundaries of space, time, culture, and language, laying the common property of the poem bare―and gasping for air. Take a deep breath. Now dive back in."
"After Jack is rich in imaginings—and in realities of Lorca-memories and in shimmerings and reflections of the grail."
"Morse’s words are cutting. He ravages language, but thankfully maintains a subtle humour throughout. This book is a love story between Jack Spicer, Garry Thomas Morse, language, and you."
"Far too clever for its own good, After Jack is a large rabbit-eared radio, indeed."
About the ContributorsGarry Thomas Morse
Garry Thomas Morse’s poetry books include Transversals for Orpheus, Streams, After Jack, Discovery Passages (finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry and the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize), Prairie Harbour, and Safety Sand. Morse’s books of fiction include his collection Death in Vancouver, and the three books in The Chaos! Quincunx series, Minor Episodes / Major Ruckus (2013 ReLit Award finalist), Rogue Cells / Carbon Harbour (2014 ReLit Award finalist), and Minor Expectations, all published by Talonbooks.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.