Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Remembering Michael McClure

I had a low day yesterday, feeling very discouraged about life in general, and I even posted about that on Facebook. Then last night I learned that Beat poet Michael McClure had died May 4. We had recently wished him a Happy Birthday (click HERE) on October 20 when he turned 87. Death awaits us all, but this one struck close to home for some reason. I guess because he was one of the few famous members of the Beat Generation era who were still around. McClure appeared in several Jack Kerouac novels: Ike O'Shay in The Dharma Bums; McLear in Big Sur; and, Patrick McLear in Desolation Angels.

The tributes to McClure are pouring in to the Facebook Jack Kerouac and The Beat Generation groups, not the least of which is from noted Kerouac biographer Gerald Nicosia, who said:
I just heard that Michael McClure has died. It's Tuesday night here. By tomorrow morning everyone should be reading about it. Funny thing is I was going through old correspondence today--stuff from more than 40 years ago--and I came upon a whole packet of letters he'd written me. I was reading his words a few hours ago, and now I learn he's dead. A gentle man, who always felt he had not gotten the recognition he deserved as a major poet, which he was. Back in the early or mid 1990's, Michael asked me to do an interview with him for the NEW YORK QUARTERLY, to help bring out aspects of his work that had been ignored. He was very happy with the interview. I don't know if it ever got put on line, but I'll try to find out, and if so, post it here.
To read such posts, you must be a member of the named groups, which I recommend. All it requires is that you ask to join and follow the rules.

Click HERE for a brief obit in the San Francisco Chronicle.

I only ever saw McClure once, at an event in New York City in 2016 which I attended with my great friend, Richard Marsh (chronicled HERE). Hence, I don't have any personal stories about the man like so many others in the Kerouac world.

The little bit I did sense about him from that event was that, while he was a gentle presence, he didn't suffer fools. And as Gerry points out above, McClure was a major poet. You can read some of his poems HERE. To do so would be a fitting tribute. Aloud would be best.

RIP, Mr. McClure. Say hi to Jack for us. I'll raise a glass to you later today.

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