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Finding Aid to the Michael McClure Papers : Additions, 1874-2003, bulk 1949-2002
BANC MSS 2003/222 c  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Michael McClure papers : additions
    Date (inclusive): 1874-2003,
    Date (bulk): bulk 1949-2002
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 2003/222 c
    Creators : McClure, Michael
    Extent: Number of containers: 53 boxes, 14 volumes, 2 oversize boxes, and 13 oversize folders Linear feet: Approx. 23
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: The Michael McClure Papers: Additions, 1874-2002, (bulk 1949-2002), present a comprehensive view of his work as a writer, spanning the length of McClure's career. The bulk consists of notebooks and writings, including poems, prose, and plays in manuscript, draft and final form. There is very little correspondence. There are also professional papers, which include posters, flyers, and broadsides, many advertising readings by McClure and others, and productions of his plays, including The Beard. There is a small amount of artwork by McClure, his family, and friends; and materials by and about artists Bruce Conner, Wallace Berman, and George Herms from William Jahrmarkt and the Batman Gallery, among others. The small amount of personal papers include records and family correspondence. These papers complement The Bancroft Library's other extensive holdings documenting the postwar San Francisco poetry renaissance and its influence on American literature.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are predominately in English
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94270-6000. Consent is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html .
    Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Michael McClure Papers : Additions, BANC MSS 2003/222 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Alternate Forms Available

    There are no alternate forms of this collection.

    Related Collections

    Michael McClure papers, circa 1963-1975, BANC MSS 76/91 c
    Michael McClure papers: additions, [circa 1972], BANC MSS 77/65 c
    Michael McClure papers relating to Meat science essays, 1962-1963, BANC MSS 94/26 c

    Separated Material

    Printed materials, including poetry broadsides, have been transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft Library. Photographs and some original artworks have been transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library. Videotapes/sound recordings have been transferred to the Microforms Collection of The Bancroft Library. Objects have been transferred to the Pictorial Collection of The Bancroft Library.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Conner, Bruce
    Jahrmarkt, William
    McClure, Michael--Archives
    Batman Gallery
    Hell's Angels
    Poets, American--20th century--California
    Beat generation
    Authors, American--20th century
    Poetry, Modern--20th century
    American poetry--20th century
    Theater--Censorship
    Poems.
    Posters.
    Broadsides.

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Michael McClure Papers: Additions, 1874-2002 were purchased by The Bancroft Library on December 17, 2002.

    Accruals

    No additions are expected.

    System of Arrangement

    Arranged to the folder level.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Dean Smith, Holly Fox, and Tanya Hollis, completed in 2005.

    Biographical Information

    Poet, playwright, novelist, and essayist Michael McClure has spread his literary net wide, but is best known as one of the leading poets of the Beat generation. Born in Marysville, Kansas on October 20, 1932, McClure became intimately associated with the counter-culture of the West coast. His childhood was initially spent in the environs of Seattle, Washington, but McClure and family were to return to Kansas where he finished high school and attended college, first at the University of Wichita, Kansas and then the University of Arizona. He finished his studies in San Francisco, receiving his Bachelor of Arts from San Francisco State College in June of 1955. During this time he studied with poet Robert Duncan.
    On October 7, 1955, at the Six Gallery in San Francisco, McClure, along with Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen and Philip Lamantia, shared the bohemian literary spotlight in what became the most famous poetry reading event of the Beat generation. The reading was followed by the publication of McClure's books of poems, Passages (1956), For Artaud, Hymns to St. Geryon (1959), Dark Brown, The New Book/A Book of Torture (1961), and Ghost Tantras (1964) and his first book of essays, Meat Science Essays (1963). But it was McClure's controversial play, The Beard (1965), an imaginary erotic encounter in a blue velvet eternity between 30s Hollywood star, Jean Harlow and Wild West outlaw, Billy the Kid, which catapulted him into the national spotlight while highlighting the debate of artistic expression versus obscenity.
    The late 1960s saw McClure expand his notoriety by befriending Jim Morrison of The Doors (they co-authored a film script based on McClure's novel, The Adept (1971) in which Morrison was to star). He became an intimate with Hell's Angels' secretary, Frank Reynolds (co-authoring his memoirs) and even co-wrote the chart-topping rock/pop song, "Mercedes Benz", made famous by singer Janis Joplin.
    McClure's creative collaborations often bore fruitful and inspired aesthetic results. His long relationship, from the 50s through the 80s, with artist and filmmaker Bruce Conner resulted in several enigmatic poetry/image publications, a early video project made for public television entitled, Liberty Crown (1967), and a sound recording of McClure reading Ghost Tantras outside the lion's cages at the San Francisco Zoo. During the 70s, McClure worked intensively with John Lion, General Director of the Magic Theater in San Francisco, producing numerous McClure plays. Since the late 1980s, his partnership with former Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek has allowed McClure to expand upon the intersection of music and the spoken word. Most recently, composer Terry Riley wrote the musical score for the revival of McClure's play, Josephine: The Mouse Singer.
    McClure's emphasis as a writer has been the attempt to heal, if not subvert, the Cartesian mind/body split. Man is "meat" not mentality. Influenced by Blake and Whitman, McClure's poetry developed quite early into a highly visual, ecstatic, and spontaneous form that reflected his deeply felt belief that humanity is not separate from the fabric and often coarse function of nature, that there is a deep connection between biology and mysticism, flesh and spirit. As McClure explained in his foreword to Jaguar Skies (1975):
    Poetry is a muscular principle- an athletic song or whisper of flashy thought. We can be as serious as blue-black gloom or bright as a buttercup in the dawn. The spirit of poetry is loops we send out from the expanding helix of our lives. With poetry we can meet an old perception on a mountain top or in a subway, or view a new perception loping in the distance like a wolf- or glimmering like an opal in the twilight.
    To these ends, McClure combined ideas from Antonin Artaud and the projective verse tradition of Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and Robert Duncan for creating his "body language," the use of animal noises, growls, and cries most explicitly given voice in his book of poems, Ghost Tantras. Throughout his career McClure, like friend and poet, Gary Snyder, has championed environmental awareness and holistic living by making impassioned pleas toward the defense of nature through the vehicle of his poetry and essays, for example, Wolf Net. McClure's deep and sensitive understanding of Eastern philosophy and religion, namely Buddhism, has also been a steady underpinning of his work and thought as has his lifelong interest in biology.
    The late 60s and 1970s were a fertile period in McClure's development as a playwright. During this period he wrote numerous works of often satirical, humorous bent that bordered on the Dadaistic, including, Gorf, whose hero is a flying purple phallus, and a series of small plays under the rubric of Gargoyle Cartoons. His plays often premiered at the Bay Area's Magic Theater, and many were produced in venues nationally and internationally. McClure received a Rockefeller Grant in playwriting in 1974 and in 1978 was awarded an Obie Award for best play for the Off-Broadway production of Josephine: The Mouse Singer. Despite his success in theater and its concomitant demands, McClure never ceased writing poetry. He published books of collected poems, Star (1970) and September Blackberries (1974), and the long single poem, Rare Angel (1974). These were followed by the publications of the books of poems, Jaguar Skies (1975) and Antechamber, & other poems (1978). McClure was even able to find the time to publish his first novel, the autobiographical The Mad Cub (1970) and quickly followed one year later with The Adept , whose anti-hero is a handsome, narcissistic drug dealer.
    The following decade was no less busy for McClure. He was to compile and publish a new series of essays, Scratching the Beat Surface (1982) and three books of poems, Fragments of Perseus (1983), Fleas (1985), and Specks (1985). By the mid-80s his long marriage to Joanna McClure (herself a poet) began unraveling and the couple divorced in 1986. At this time McClure met the artist, Amy Evans, whom he married in 1997. In 1988, McClure began working collaboratively with longtime friend, Ray Manzarek, after both were billed at an event at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, California where McClure was headlining and Manzarek played piano with poet Michael C. Ford. Since then, McClure and Manzarek have performed nationally in a variety of venues ranging from cafes to college campuses, and television, and have produced several videos of their performance events.
    The 1990s saw McClure's energy pour forth into ever more published work, including the book of poems, Rebel Lions (1991) and another collection of essays, which included interviews, Lighting the Corners: on Art, Nature, and the Visionary (1993). Most recently McClure has been focusing his poetic concerns on Buddhist themes and ideas in the two books of poems, Touching the Edge: Dharma Devotions from the Hummingbird Sangha (1999) and Plum Stones: Cartoons of No Heaven (2002). Michael McClure continues to give poetry readings, as he has done regularly throughout his career, and currently (2006) lives in Oakland, California with his wife, Amy Evans McClure.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Michael McClure Papers: Additions, 1874-2002, (bulk 1949-2002), present a comprehensive view of his work as a writer, spanning the length of McClure's career. The bulk consists of notebooks and writings, including poems, prose, and plays in manuscript, draft and final form. There is very little correspondence. There are also professional papers, which include posters, flyers, and broadsides, many advertising readings by McClure and others, and productions of his plays, including The Beard. There is a small amount of artwork by McClure, his family, and friends; and materials by and about artists Bruce Conner, Wallace Berman, and George Herms from William Jahrmarkt and the Batman Gallery, among others. The small amount of personal papers include records and family correspondence. These papers complement The Bancroft Library's other extensive holdings documenting the postwar San Francisco poetry renaissance and its influence on American literature.