Last night’s Jack Spicer Celebration (Panel & Reading), ostensibly for the publication of My Vocabulary Dis This To Me: The Collected Poems of Jack Spicer, at The Poetry Project & co-sponsored by Poets House, was an excellent & moving affair. That it happened on the very day Robin Blaser was buried, added a tinge of sadness — but maybe also a dimension of depth. Thus when Kevin Killian recounted Duncan’s retelling of the story of Robin witnessing Spicer’s last words — the title of the book celebrated — & Duncan’s suggestion that if Robin were present at his death he’d also want a tape-recorder in the room, I couldn’t help wondering about Robin’s last words and if anyone except Robin witnessed them. But the celebratory spirit of the event & Spicer’s sharp wit won out over such sadsack mullings. It was a pleasure to meet George Stanley who I had never met before — & to see a whole range of old friends gathered in NYC for the occasion. (Interesting discussion started by George, I think, on West Coast — East Coast differences in approach to poetry, though those coastal categories seem a bit too pat in our nomadic world). Also fascinating was Kevin Killian’s interview with Deborah Remington, an artist who way back when had been a student in Spicer’s classes as well as one of six founders of the famous “6 Gallery.” The readings of Spicer’s poems were mainly splendid — it was quite an experience to hear one poet’s voice & words come through the air shaped & sounded by some 14 different voices. I closed my eyes at one moment & imagined this was Jack speaking through a Martian radio & doing all the different voices himself. And opened my eyes again to see what a community of poets can be, even if only as a momentary constellation, but a community as foreshadowed in the Four of Cups on the cover of the old Black Sparrow Collected Books of Jack Spicer.
Didn’t have my camera with me, but took a few shots with the iPhone that didn’t come out too well, though here’s one I like, showing Kevin Killian & Peter Gizzi (the editors of the book) caught in the flash of Dodie Bellami’s new camera.