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My Vocabulary Did This to Me

The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer

Jack Spicer

Publication Year: 2008

In 1965, when the poet Jack Spicer died at the age of forty, he left behind a trunkful of papers and manuscripts and a few copies of the seven small books he had seen to press. A West Coast poet, his influence spanned the national literary scene of the 1950s and '60s, though in many ways Spicer's innovative writing ran counter to that of his contemporaries in the New York School and the West Coast Beat movement. Now, more than forty years later, Spicer's voice is more compelling, insistent, and timely than ever. During his short but prolific life, Spicer troubled the concepts of translation, voice, and the act of poetic composition itself. My Vocabulary Did This to Me is a landmark publication of this essential poet's life work, and includes poems that have become increasingly hard to find and many published here for the first time.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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CONTENTS

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pp. v-viii

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. ix-xi

Many helped us in the years during which we edited this book. First of all, we would like to thank Robin Blaser, who shepherded these materials for forty years and whose edition of Spicer’s...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. xiii-xxv

In 1965, when Jack Spicer wrote “get those words out of your mouth and into your heart,” he voiced an imperative to both poet and reader addressing the perilous honesty that the lived life of the poem demands. This admonition is startling coming from a poet who claimed that his poems...

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ABOUT THIS EDITION

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pp. xxvii-xxxi

A poet’s life work comes into print culture for many reasons and in many different formats and presentations; that is to say, no poet’s work comes to a final state in a uniform way, nor without the rich life of textual work and its attendant discourse...

I. (1945–1956)

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pp. 1-94

BERKELEY RENAISSANCE (1945–1950)

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pp. 3-33

BERKELEY IN TIME OF PLAGUE

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pp. 5-

A GIRL’S SONG

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pp. 5-

HOMOSEXUALITY

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pp. 6-

A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG LANDSCAPE

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pp. 6-10

AN APOCALYPSE FOR THREE VOICES

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pp. 10-12

ONE NIGHT STAND

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pp. 13-

AN ANSWER TO JAIME DE ANGULO

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pp. 13-

A LECTURE IN PRACTICAL AESTHETICS

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pp. 14-15

DIALOGUE BETWEEN INTELLECT AND PASSION

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pp. 15-16

A NIGHT IN FOUR PARTS (Second Version)

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pp. 16-18

ORPHEUS IN HELL

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pp. 18-

ORPHEUS AFTER EURYDICE

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pp. 19-

ORPHEUS’ SONG TO APOLLO

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pp. 20-

TROY POEM

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pp. 21-

“We find the body difficult to speak . . .”

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pp. 22-

“They are selling the midnight papers . . .”

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pp. 22-23

“Any fool can get into an ocean . . .”

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pp. 23-

THE SCROLLWORK ON THE CASKET

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pp. 24-25

THE DANCING APE

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pp. 25-

IMAGINARY ELEGIES

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pp. 26-30

PSYCHOANALYSIS: AN ELEGY

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pp. 31-33

MINNESOTA POEMS (1950–1952)

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pp. 35-41

MINNEAPOLIS: INDIAN SUMMER

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pp. 37-

WATCHING A TV BOXING MATCH IN OCTOBER

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pp. 37-38

PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST

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pp. 38-

SONNET FOR THE BEGINNING OF WINTER

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pp. 38-39

ON READING LAST YEAR’S LOVE POEMS

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pp. 39-

ORPHEUS IN ATHENS

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pp. 39-40

TRAIN SONG FOR GARY

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pp. 40-

A SECOND TRAIN SONG FOR GARY

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pp. 41-

BERKELEY / SAN FRANCISCO (1952–1955)

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pp. 43-49

A POSTSCRIPT TO THE BERKELEY RENAISSANCE

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pp. 45-46

A POEM FOR DADA DAY AT THE PLACE, APRIL 1, 1955

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pp. 46-47

“The window is a sword . . .”

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pp. 47-

IMAGINARY ELEGIES

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pp. 48-49

NEW YORK / BOSTON (1955–1956)

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pp. 51-94

IInd PHASE OF THE MOON

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pp. 53-

IIIrd PHASE OF THE MOON

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pp. 53-54

IVth PHASE OF THE MOON

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pp. 54-

SOME NOTES ON WHITMAN FOR ALLEN JOYCE

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pp. 55-56

THE DAY FIVE THOUSAND FISH DIED ALONG THE CHARLES RIVER

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pp. 56-

HIBERNATION—AFTER MORRIS GRAVES

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pp. 56-57

ÉTERNUEMENT

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pp. 57-

SONG FOR THE GREAT MOTHER

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pp. 57-58

“The city of Boston . . .”

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pp. 58-

FIVE WORDS FOR JOE DUNN ON HIS TWENTY-SECOND BIRTHDAY

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pp. 58-60

BIRDLAND, CALIFORNIA

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pp. 60-61

“Imagine Lucifer . . .”

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pp. 61-62

THE SONG OF THE BIRD IN THE LOINS

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pp. 62-63

BABEL 3

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pp. 63-

THEY MURDERED YOU: AN ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF KENNETH REXROTH

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pp. 64-65

A POEM TO THE READER OF THE POEM

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pp. 65-68

SONG FOR BIRD AND MYSELF

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pp. 69-72

A POEM WITHOUT A SINGLE BIRD IN IT

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pp. 73-

THE UNVERT MANIFESTO AND OTHER PAPERS FOUND IN THE RARE BOOK ROOM OF THE BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY IN THE HANDWRITING OF OLIVER CHARMING. BY S.

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pp. 74-94

II. (1956–1965)

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pp. 95-

SAN FRANCISCO (1956–1965)

“POETRY AS MAGIC” WORKSHOP

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pp. 99-104

AFTER LORCA (1957)

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pp. 105-154

ADMONITIONS (1957)

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pp. 155-168

A BOOK OF MUSIC (1958)

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pp. 169-178

SOCRATES

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pp. 179-

A POEM FOR DADA DAY AT THE PLACE, APRIL 1, 1958

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pp. 180-181

BILLY THE KID (1958)

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pp. 183-191

FOR STEVE JONAS WHO IS IN JAIL FOR DEFRAUDING A BOOK CLUB

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pp. 192-

FIFTEEN FALSE PROPOSITIONS AGAINST GOD (1958)

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pp. 193-202

LETTERS TO JAMES ALEXANDER (1958–1959)

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pp. 203-216

APOLLO SENDS SEVEN NURSERY RHYMES TO JAMES ALEXANDER (1959)

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pp. 217-222

A BIRTHDAY POEM FOR JIM (AND JAMES) ALEXANDER (1959)

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pp. 223-229

IMAGINARY ELEGIES

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pp. 230-232

“Dignity is a part of a man . . .”

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pp. 233-234

HELEN: A REVISION (1960)

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pp. 235-245

THE HEADS OF THE TOWN UP TO THE AETHER (1960)

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pp. 247-313

LAMENT FOR THE MAKERS (1961)

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pp. 315-322

A RED WHEELBARROW (1962)

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pp. 323-327

THREE MARXIST ESSAYS

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pp. 328-

THE HOLY GRAIL (1962)

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pp. 329-358

GOLEM (1962)

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pp. 359-364

MAP POEMS (1963–1964)

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pp. 365-369

LANGUAGE (1963–1965)

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pp. 371-402

BOOK OF MAGAZINE VERSE (1965)

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pp. 403-427

CHRONOLOGY

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pp. 429-435

NOTES TO THE POEMS

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pp. 437-453

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 455-456

INDEX OF TITLES

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pp. 457-460

INDEX OF FIRST LINES

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pp. 461-465

ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND EDITORS

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pp. 472-


E-ISBN-13: 9780819571090
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819568878

Page Count: 508
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Wesleyan Poetry Series