Sunday, August 5, 2012
The House that Jack Built: The Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer
Edited with and Afterword by Peter Gizzi
Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books.
A chapter in the imaginary book about my first two years in Buffalo could be titled, "Waiting For Jack Spicer," so intense was the anticipation of the release of this book, along with Kevin Killian's biography, Poet Be Like God.
Everyone in Buffalo knew that Peter Gizzi, who has just graduated, had been preparing this volume, his dissertation, for publication. It was due out at any moment.
In Charles Bernstein's seminar, we read from a xerox of the first lecture, "Dictation and 'A Textbook of Poetry,'" wherein Spicer expounds his theory of poetry as dictation. The poet receives radio signals from Mars, a la Cegeste in Cocteau's Orphee. His only job is to listen to and transcribe the messages.
In addition to reading Spicer's lectures and poems, everyone in Buffalo started renting Orpheus from Blockbuster which, for whatever reason, kept a copy in stock. We also rented Blood of a Poet and Testament of Orpheus. On VHS!
My friend Anya wrote a paper on Spicer and talked about him a lot on the poetics list.
My friend Nick ordered a very reasonably priced collection of first editions of Spicer from a newly created auction site called eBay.
My other friend Nick organized a beach party in Canada based on Spicer's "Poetry as Magic" Workshop.
Kevin Killian came to the seminar to discuss his forthcoming biography.
I think both this and Poet Be Like God were released at the end of that school year, which kept the enthusiasm for Spicer high all the way through the next year, if not beyond.
And then it died down as people graduated and moved on from the Queen City.
Of course, I stayed around long enough to see the second resurgence of Spicer, led by the intrepid David Hadbwanik. In his time in Buffalo he has brought Spicer back with a vengeance, directing poets theatre events around Spicer's plays, writing papers and giving talks on Spicer, even going as far as starting a writer's group called Poetry Still Magic.
Anyhow, you can read the first lecture here: