Be Brave to Things
The Uncollected Poetry and Plays of Jack Spicer
Wesleyan Poetry Series
Sales Date: 2023-10-10
Be Brave to Things shows legendary San Francisco Renaissance poet Jack Spicer at the top of his form, with his blistering intelligence, painful double-edged wit, and devastating will to truth everywhere on display. Most of the poetry here has never before been published, but the volume also includes much out-of-print or hard to find work, as well as Spicer's three major plays, which have never been collected. Here one finds major unfinished projects, early and alternate versions of well-known Spicer poems, shimmering stand-alone lyrics, and intricate extended "books" and serial poems. In writings that range in date from his first days in Berkeley in 1945 through to the final months of his life, 20 years later, one sees the full development of Spicer as a writer, in a volume that complements and completes the award-winning My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer. Readers familiar with Spicer will find countless lines, rhythms, and thoughts that cast new light on old favorites, while the plays reveal a different side of his dialectical and dialogic approach to writing. This new cache of Spicer material will be indispensable for any student of 20th century American poetry, proffering a trove of primary material for Spicer's growing readership to savor and enjoy.
"This superb collection, along with its incisive introduction, offers previously uncollected and/or unpublished work by a poet whose time has come. Queer, out and proud in the 1950s; erudite and populist; fiercely local but grand in visionary ambition—Jack Spicer speaks anew through this eloquent volume."
"Have you read a poet and suddenly feel the shoulders you stand on? Jack Spicer does this to many of us, and now there are more poems! Oh, more treasure! Magic is not a metaphor, and 'Time does not finish a poem.' Jack says, 'Like a herd of reindeer / No one knows your heart."
"Be Brave to Things is a welcome addition to Jack Spicer's noncanonical canon, edited with scrupulous attention to a poem's provenance and publishing history. Daniel Katz's introduction is one of the best summaries of Spicer's poetics we have."