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Topic Summary

Posted by: Taman Tun
« on: May 30, 2020, 02:43:24 PM »

Here is photo and short extract of the obit in the Times.
Michael McClure was a lion among poets; also, on one occasion, a poet among lions. One day in 1966 he visited San Francisco zoo and read a poem from his collection Ghost Tantras to the lions. A grainy film of the performance shows him holding a book in one hand with his other hand raised towards the sky like an Old Testament prophet.

“Silence the eyes! Becalm the senses!” he intoned, before he ended the poem by roaring like a lion. His captive audience responded in kind. “The four maned males of the building they roar back with me and we sing it together,” he later wrote. “The five of us are deeply pleased.” With his steely eyes and long, flowing hair, the maverick Beat poet rather resembled a lion. “Without the roar of McClure there would have been no Sixties,” his friend the actor Dennis Hopper said.

Certainly McClure’s role in the emergence of that decade’s counterculture was pivotal. He was there reading his poetry at the Human Be-In in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park which launched the “summer of love” in 1967 as Timothy Leary called on everyone to “turn on, tune in, drop out”, the Grateful Dead played and Allen Ginsberg chanted. Bob Dylan was a friend, Jim Morrison of the Doors regarded him as a mentor and he helped Janis Joplin to write her hit song Mercedes Benz.

Rock fans also knew him from an extraordinary performance in Martin Scorsese’s documentary film of the Band’s star-studded farewell 1976 concert, The Last Waltz. Sharing a bill with Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Van Morrison, McClure recited a portion of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in Middle English.


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