Presented in cooperation with Border Poetics Consortium.
Hosted by S.A. GRIFFIN.
At age 22, MICHAEL MCCLURE gave his first poetry reading at the legendary Six Gallery event in San Francisco, where ALLEN GINSBERG first read Howl. Today, McClure is more active than ever, writing and performing his poetry at festivals, and colleges and clubs across the country.
“The role model for JIM MORRISON,” as the Los Angeles Times characterized MICHAEL MCCLURE, has found sources in music from THELONIOUS MONK and MILES DAVIS to the composer TERRY RILEY with whom his poetry performances frequently share a bill and with whom he created a CD titled I Like Your Eyes Liberty. The CD explores spontaneous music and voice (working together) expressing the outrageous and mystical in both artists.
McClure has worked extensively with his old friend RAY MANZAREK, THE DOORS' keyboardist, at festivals and colleges and clubs. They appeared with saxophonist DAVID SANBORN on NBC-TV performing a jazz version of McClure's Love Lion Blues. Mystic Fire released a 70-minute video of the duo and a compact disk Love Lion followed. McClure and Manzarek's second CD carries on their explorations. Third Mind, a film of Michael and Ray's conversations and performances, was premiered by the Sun Dance Channel.
McClure reads with an actor's command and a singer's timing, his impact “transports audiences to a very different and intriguing place.” He has given hundreds of reading in venues as varied as the Fillmore Ballroom, Yale University, Stanford, The National Biodiversity Conference at the Smithsonian, and the Library of Congress. His audiences have ranged from an intimate dozen at a tiny Maui bookstore, to tens of thousands at San Francisco's Human Be-in in San Francisco, and to multitudes at Airlift Africa. One of the poet's readings was to, and with, four lions at the San Francisco Zoo - a film of it is sometimes shown on TV. McClure's world-wide performances include Rome, Paris, Tokyo, Lawrence, Kansas, London, a bull ring in Mexico City, The Whitney Museum, and a steam room in Nairobi for a group of African businessmen.
A reviewer of a recent London reading wrote, “McClure's West Coast delivery was deliberate, cool, spacious…” The Journal-World in Lawrence, Kansas offered these observations of McClure at the WILLIAM BURROUGHS celebration, “McClure looked cool. Yet he grew warm, wending lyrical words around the air and across the hall. The coolness fell away with his simple elegance in word and presentation… McClure was controlled and read with steady jazz rhythms, a perfect, minimal chart of spoken words.”
He has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Obie Award for Best Play, an NEA grant, the Alfred Jarry Award, and a Rockefeller grant for playwriting. McClure has written twenty plays and musicals, which are performed in the U.S. and abroad. His play The Beard provoked numerous censorship battles. In Los Angeles the cast was arrested after each performance for fourteen nights in a row. Later The Beard received two Obies in N.Y.C. and was warmly embraced in both London and Paris. The play has played a role in U.S. censorship and free speech battles since1966 when it won the first lawsuit.
The poet is featured in Scorcese's Last Waltz, in which his reading of a poem by Chaucer “lilted, rolled, and seduced the audience into the lyric tonality of Middle English” (Atlanta Poetry Review). McClure played a Hells Angel in NORMAN MAILER'S film Beyond the Law. He had a cameo in PETER FONDA'S Hired Hand. McClure has made two television documentaries - The Maze and September Blackberries. His many books of poetry include Jaguar Skies, Dark Brown, Huge Dreams, Rebel Lions, Rain Mirror, andPlum Stones. He has published eight books of plays and four collections of essays, including essays on BOB DYLAN and on environmental issues. His novels are The Mad Cub and The Adept.
McClure's songs include “Mercedes Benz,” popularized by JANIS JOPLIN and new songs, which are being performed by The Twenty-first Century Doors.
His journalism has been featured in The Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and the L.A. Times and San Francisco Chronicle.
MICHAEL MCCLURE'S travels include Africa, Mexico, South America, India, Thailand, and Japan. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area hills with his wife, the sculptor AMY EVANS MCCLURE.
Two collections of Michael's poems are being published:
Mysteriosos and other Poems (New Directions spring 2010)
Of Indigo and Saffron: Selected and New Poems (University of California Press, 2010).
MICHAEL C. FORD was born on the Illinois side of Lake Michigan. His debut spoken word vinyl LANGUAGE COMMANDO earned a Grammy nomination in 1986. His book of Selected Poems EMERGENCY EXITS was honored by a 1998 Pulitzer Prize nomination. His last CD FIRE ESCAPES was produced at Sonora by Michael Campagna who also composed and orchestrated most of the charts. He concluded a recording project, a verbal rhapsody, which pays an important tribute to both the art and the history of percussion and collaborating with THE DOORS co-founder JOHN DENSMORE at the drum kit. MICHAEL C. FORD has participated in keeping THE DOORS open by occasionally being in the company of keyboardist RAY MANZAREK. Since their milestone appearances at McCabe’s (1986-1989), they’ve been collaborating on several voice and piano recording dates, the most recent track titled EXTREME UNCTION FOR JAMES DOUGLAS MORRISON for Hen House Studios anthology Vol. 4. Besides publishing music journalism and essays on other aspects of American cultural history, he’s served as judge and panelist for literary arts organizations and publishers. Ford’s plays have been staged internationally, and a screenplay version of a West Coast production of BLONDES DON’T BOTHER TO KNOCK is currently in production. He’s been called into service to teach in USA county area middle-schools and high-schools through the PEN in the Classroom program and to recite at various venues, many times with musical accompaniment.
Admission $7, students/seniors/children $5, members FREE
Free street parking.