“A great book of learning from a lifetime's thoughts of the poem. Ramble, scribble, tickle, lightbulb! Timely and highly worthwhile.” —Clark Coolidge
“Invaluable for anyone who reads or writes poetry, or has a restless desire of any kind, this wondrous, zany compendium gives us ‘a biography of poetry’ that directly enters our veins, bypassing all the crud and restoring our sense of the art, and David Meltzer is a champion of the impossible to have compiled it.” —Mary Ruefle
David Meltzer’s return visit to The Poetry Center will focus on the recent reissue of a special edition of Two-Way Mirror. First published in 1977 by Oyez Press, it’s back with a new introduction and an ample addendum written almost forty years later. Two-Way Mirror is a classic book of poetics. Written in short remarks, autobiographical anecdotes, and quotations drawn from philosophical, ethnographic, and literary sources, Two-Way Mirror is both a non-didactic guide to the art Meltzer has devoted his life to, and a literary pleasure in itself.
A poet at age 11, raised in Brooklyn, New York, David Meltzer began his literary career during the Beat heyday and was a prominent participant in the San Francisco Renaissance of the late 1950s and ’60s. He came to prominence as the youngest poet to have work included in Donald Allen’s anthology, The New American Poetry, 1945–1960. At the age of 20 he first recorded his poetry with jazz musicians in Los Angeles and later became a singer-songwriter and guitarist for Bay Area bands during the 1960s, including The Serpent Power, whose album Rolling Stone’s recently cited as among their Top 40 albums for 1968. He is the author of many volumes of poetry including David’s Copy: Selected Poems, Beat Thing, Arrows: Selected Poetry 1957–1992, No Eyes: Lester Young, and most recently When I Was A Poet, published in 2011 as #60 in the City Lights Pocket Poets Series. He’s also published fiction, essays, and numerous anthologies and collections of interviews including The Secret Garden: An Anthology in the Kabbalah, Birth, Death, Reading Jazz, Writing Jazz, and San Francisco Beat: Talking with the Poets. Meltzer taught in the undergraduate Humanities and graduate Poetics Program at the New College of California in San Francisco for thirty years. In 2011, he was given the SF Bay Guardian Lifetime Achievement Award. He is featured in several documentary films, including Mary Kerr’s recently released epic, Wild History Groove, focusing on artists and writers in North Beach, San Francisco, in the 1950s. In August of this year, Two-Tone Poetry & Jazz, a CD featuring he, his wife Julie Rogers, and saxophonist Zan Stewart, was released. He lives in Oakland.
“David Meltzer is a hidden adept, one of the secret treasures on our planet. Great poet, musician, comic; mystic unsurpassed, performer with few peers.” —Diane di Prima