Peter Gizzi : Introduction to Jack Spicer’s 3rd Vancouver Lecture (June 17, 1965)


“The third Vancouver lecture is in many ways the most contrary and least accessible of Spicer’s lectures, but it may also be the one that most repays the study it requires. On the surface, the lecture strays and rambles, but interspersed in the repartee of questions and answers are some of Spicer’s most interesting and enigmatic statements on his art. At this point in the lecture series, Spicer and the audience have become intimate enough to lose patience with each other, challenge each other’s basic tenets, talk loudly at the same time, and burst into laughter at the slightest inside joke. As Spicer may have intended, the audience itself has begun to appear divided on the basis of just how seriously they take his propositions. Spicer, in turn, while declaring that he wishes he could stay in Vancouver, proceeds, directly and indirectly, to insult the local magazines Prism and Tish. … Again, it is important to realize that Spicer repeatedly creates and sustains around him a vortex of dissent, but he is no less utopian in his thinking because of it. In many ways, dissent is Spicer’s utopia. Since a community of heterogeneous members could never live in agreement without becoming a tyranny, it seems the only hope would be to value instead its disagreements, to see argument as progressive, and to create a context for heterodoxy. For Spicer this means creating a community or ‘city’ that is open at its center, and through the course of the lecture this open center becomes represented by the baseball diamond that he places at the heart of the city – a kind of absurdist’s town square, which is publicly shared and therefore always potentially ‘in play’ and in which no individual player is allowed to dominate the ‘game’ but everyone, in turn, is required to participate. It’s a community of informed and engaged constituents who are committed to the regionalism and teamwork of their shared game. It turns out, in fact, that baseball works for Spicer as a model of individual and social composition; in the lecture he uses it to describe his practice of dictation and in his last book, Book of Magazine Verse, the diamond becomes an incarnation or synthesis of heavenly and earthly cities. …”
Jacket2: “Poetry in Process and Book of Magazine Verse
Jacket2: Jacket #7 — April 1999
T I M E L I N E : Historical events and the writings of Jack Spicer
MIMEO MIMEO: Homage to Spicer
Jack Spicer on PennSound (Audio)

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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