A BOOK OF MUSIC (1958) by Jack Spicer
110 x 160mm, 24 pages, black and white risograph printing, saddle stitched, 2023
A new edition of the posthumously published collection 'A Book of Music' by the American poet Jack Spicer (1925-1965).
While little known outside a circle of friends and poets in his lifetime, Spicer is widely considered one of the major figures of twentieth century American poetry.
After being removed from a teaching position at Berkeley in 1950 for refusing to pledge allegiance to the United States, he became a founder of the radical and counter-cultural San Francisco Renaissance movement of poets in an age when homosexuality was illegal.
He believed that the poet was a “radio” able to collect transmissions from an “invisible world,” as opposed to the idea that poetry was driven by a poet’s voice and will. In this sense he believed that his poems were dictated from a spirit world and saw poetry as a form of magic, most potent when spoken aloud.
He died at the age of 40 in the poverty ward of San Francisco General Hospital, from acute alcohol poisoning. One of his last coherent sentences was, “My vocabulary did this to me.”