The Collected Books
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The Collected Books

4.64 of 5 stars 4.64  ·  rating details  ·  384 ratings  ·  23 reviews
The Collected Books includes all the poems written from After Lorca (1957) up to the poet's early death, including Admonitions (1958), A Book of Music (1958), Billy the Kid (1958), The Holy Grail (1962), Book of Magazine Verse, et al. Plus Robin Blaser's seminal long essay, "The Practice of Outside", on Spicer's poetics of dictation, and various appendices.
Paperback, 382 pages
Published July 1st 1975 by Black Sparrow Press (first published 1975)
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Poetry so fresh, brilliant, evocative, strange and transformational they're new every time you read them. Spicer is obscure in the best sense: he takes the reader into his language, lets the reader divine the meaning. He was the best of the beat poets, better than Ginsberg, Snider, Ferlinghetti, the other high profile ones. Only Corso can get near him. This is a book that never gets old.
There is little better than the collected Spicer. The poems in here are the perfect poke between calculated and accidental. After Lorca will rip your soul off your head and shit down your throat. It is the greatest. Blaser essay in this book is fun and long as shit. I like poetry that sort of almost escapes the poet. I think that was Spicer's intention. But of course, it was coming from the ink in his pen. Regardless of the means or presence (or lack thereof) an author, these poems make me happy...more
I discovered this book as a teenager and it made a huge impression on me. I am not sure if I still have the orignal Black Sparrow edition or not. If not, that makes me sad. But what impressed me is how Spicer sort of used his world to make something of it - via his poetry. I liked how he used the language of newspapers (like Blaise Cendrars) to write poetry. It made me realize that I could go outside 'myself' for material for my own poetry at the time. And that stayed with me.... forever!
in addition to the many other
important things about this
i was pleased that he writes about religion
neither buffoonishly nor ignorantly
it isn't necessarily something he agrees with
and he has his own thoughts about it
but that doesn't mean he dismisses it
or makes it the butt of jokes
rather he writes about it interestingly
pointing out concepts in it

would rather be an owner of killian and gizzi's new edition
than a library borrower of this old
but sometimes it's nice to hang onto your $25 or whatev...more
Every time I read this book, I discover the poems as if I've never read them before. They have facets like diamonds, each facet taking years to sink in well enough to be seen. I take these poems to be textbooks of poetry. My friend Arthur Trupp read one of these to me one day in the summer of 78, while we were both at Naropa, and I was forever hooked to Spicer. The essay by Robin Blaser in the back, The Practice of the Outside, is equally essential reading. I have returned to this book hundreds...more
Matty B
A gay romantic barfly of the 1950s bay area too smart for douchey beat poets and too cool for academic life, as somebody said. Jack Spicer is a populist who I think is lovable and readable to anybody American regardless of whether or not you read poetry. Jack spicers last words were: "My vocabulary did this to me."
Jan 31, 2009 Liana rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Writers, Poets, God
Recommended to Liana by: A handsome professor
Shelves: favorites
Incredible! Just to think of these collections and their indelible mix of grace and savagery brings peace to my bones. I am very grateful for this book's existence because it generously fuels my desire for writing. Letters for Lorca alone is beyond words, beyond this world. I'm being serious.
May 29, 2011 Lesliemae rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lesliemae by: Michael Boughn
Shelves: poetry
I took a course on Jack Spicer with Victor Coleman and Michael Boughn. I found the poetry really demanding, but about half way through the course (about the time the poetry started to open up) I began to really love Spicer. Not easy, but worthwhile.
Apr 28, 2008 Laura rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: poetry fans
Shelves: never-finished
I dunno. I should have like it. It's the sort of thing I like. I just never got into it. It's a tad too smart for my old(er) brain. I probably should have read it in college. Maybe I'll try again some other time.
Christoph Girard
I learned if Vancouver was the place to move to in 1964, then Los Angeles has been long since past dead. I wish I could have attended his magic of poetry class when I went to SF State. Shame I wasn't born in 1943.
straight men think about baseball while fucking so they don't blow their load too fast. Jack Spicer thinks about fucking while watching baseball cuz his dick was as big as a louisville slugger.
Dec 27, 2007 Andy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: top-10
I'll read it over and over for the rest of my life. Spicer's one of the handful of writers who influences me without my noticing it until later.
Jul 13, 2007 david-baptiste rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: passersby
"i have but to cross the room to be in the spice islands"
emily dickinson

well now i am in the spicer islands--and is astonishing!
Billy the Kid shot Rimbaud but Rimbaud loved Billy and they wrote each other the Book of Music. And then there was Lorca... I love Lorca.
have read before, but flipping through it again as I read The House That Jack Built.
This is an amazing work. Spicer still shines, all these years later.
john steven
spicer's the fundamental good in poetry. go. read.
This book borked my heart, from that day to this.
Feb 24, 2008 Zach added it
Amazing. How to write really great/insane poetry.


totally clean copy suckas
Jack Spicer...! Like, whoah!
Mickey marked it as to-read
Sep 10, 2014
Jeune Fille
Jeune Fille marked it as to-read
Aug 27, 2014
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  • Collected Works
  • The Sonnets
  • New Collected Poems
  • The Collected Poems, 1945-1975
  • "A"
  • The Mooring of Starting Out
  • The Book of Frank
  • In the Pines
  • My Life
  • Steal Away: Selected and New Poems
  • Imaginations
  • Coeur de Lion
  • Midwinter Day
  • The Maximus Poems
  • My Emily Dickinson
  • The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You
  • The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems of Mina Loy
  • The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara
Jack Spicer (January 30, 1925 - August 17, 1965) was an American poet often identified with the San Francisco Renaissance. In 2009, My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer won the American Book Award for poetry.

Spicer was born in Los Angeles, where he later graduated from Fairfax High School in 1942, and attended the University of Redlands from 1943-45. He spent most of h...more
More about Jack Spicer...
My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry The House That Jack Built: The Collected Lectures Language One Night Stand & Other Poems Billy the Kid

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