Full program audio: David Meltzer Memorial Tribute: November 12, 2017
A memorial tribute to our friend David Meltzer, co-sponsored by The Poetry Center and City Lights Books. Featuring tributes and readings by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (from video recording), Julie Rogers, George Herms, Jack Hirschman, Jerome Rothenberg, Marina Lazzara, Sunnylyn Thibodeaux, Michael McClure, and Clark Coolidge. The emcee for the event is Garrett Caples, with the opening provided by Steve Dickison. Also included are vintage recordings of David Meltzer reading his work.
David Meltzer (February 7, 1937, Rochester, NY–December 31, 2016, Oakland, CA) was a poet associated with both the Beat Generation and the San Francisco Renaissance. He was among the youngest poets included in Donald M. Allen’s anthology, The New American Poetry 1945–1960. A child prodigy, Meltzer performed on radio and TV in New York beginning in the late ’40s. In 1957, after moving cross country in his youth to Los Angeles, where he became involved in the circle around Wallace Berman, Meltzer moved to San Francisco, where he associated with such poets as Allen Ginsberg, John Wieners, Robert Duncan, and Jack Spicer. A pioneer of jazz poetry readings, Meltzer also formed a psychedelic folk-rock group called Serpent Power, recording for Vanguard Records in the late ’60s. In addition to his many books of poetry, he also published ten erotic novels in the late ’60s and early ’70s, including the critically-acclaimed “anti-porn” Agency Trilogy, revisiting the genre in 1995 with Under. He was an editor of anthologies: The San Francisco Poets (interviews), The Secret Garden (on the Jewish Kabbalah), Birth, Death, Reading Jazz, Writing Jazz, and San Francisco Beat: Talking with the Poets; and of magazines: Journal for the Protection of All Beings, Tree, and Shuffle Boil. Meltzer taught for many years at New College of California, from the early Poetics Program in the ’80s up to the school’s closing in 2008. In 2005, Penguin Books published his selected poems, David’s Copy, and in 2011, City Lights published When I Was a Poet, No. 60 in the Pocket Poets Series. Photo: David Meltzer and George Herms.
Earlier recordings of David Meltzer from the Poetry Center Archive:
Audio: Joanne Kyger and David Meltzer at The Poetry Center, October 23, 1968
Full program video: David Meltzer: Two-Way Mirror, at The Poetry Center, September 24, 2015
Highlight video clips from September 24, 2015:
"This is a book of basics." (from Two Way Mirror) | "It's headwork, brainwork." (from Two Way Mirror) | "Lamentation / for Jack Spicer"