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The Collected Books

4.58  ·  Rating details ·  472 Ratings  ·  24 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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Oct 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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!
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
The Collected Books includes
After Lorca , Admonitions , A Book of Music , Billy the Kid , Fifteen False Propositions About God , Apollo Sends Seven Nursery Rhymes to James Alexander , A Red Wheelbarrow , Lament for the Makers , Heads of the Town up to the Aether , The Holy Grail , Language , and Book of Magazine Verse .

In addition, The Collected Books includes an essay on Jack Spicer by (friend of Spicer and editor of The Collected Books), and Spicer's early (unpublished?) writing.
Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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

i thought the holy grail was his best
end of the rimbaud novel, beginning of the textbook,
and of course the elegies and some poems and letters in lorca
Matty B
Sep 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
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  • Collected Works
  • New Collected Poems
  • The Sonnets
  • Complete Short Poetry
  • The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1945-1975
  • The Maximus Poems
  • The Opening of the Field: Poetry
  • The Tennis Court Oath
  • Imaginations
  • Ark
  • Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems, 1970-2005
  • My Life
  • Next Life
  • Ring of Fire
  • The Book of Frank
  • Muse and Drudge
  • The Midnight
  • Fuck You-Aloha-I Love You
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 about Jack Spicer...