** Limited edition of 80. The cassette comes with a laser printed insert** American poet, playwright and novelist Michael McClure (1932-2020) left Wichita in the early 1950s to settle in San Francisco. There he soon found his feet and was one of the five poets – together with Allen Ginsberg, Philip Lamantia, Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen – who took part in the famous poetry reading at the Six Gallery in 1955; an event now generally considered to have been the launch of the Beat Generation. McClure developed into one of the core members of the Beat generation and was so much at the heart of the later 1960s scene that Barry Miles dubbed him ‘The Prince of the San Francisco Scene’. McClure’s move to San Francisco, the reading at the Six Gallery and his hero Jack Kerouac are brought up for discussion in a casual conversation between McClure and Jaap van der Bent that was recorded during One World Poetry Amsterdam in 1981 and released on cassette by Counter Culture Chronicles earlier this year.
When asked by Van der Bent what the importance of the Beat Generation was, McClure answers that he sees the Beats as part of a biological and environmental development, a growing awareness of man’s relationship with the surrounding world that started after World War II and continued into the 1960s and 1970s. “Our outside is just an extension of the inside”, McClure explains at another point of the conversation. In McClure’s view poetry shouldn’t try to evoke images but should instead, as sound, try to have a direct impact on the mind and body. Remarks by McClure like this make this sometimes slow and slightly awkward conversation valuable. They shed light on McClure’s poetic practice, which was once unconventional and self-conscious enough to confront the lions of San Francisco Zoo with a poetry reading in front of a film camera. Just as valuable in the recording are McClure’s remarks about the influence of Artaud on his work as a playwright, or the influence of E.E. Cummings on the visual shape of his poems, brought about by McClure’s consequent use of centered alignment in print. Polite, almost too polite, is this conversation between two suave gentlemen. But fortunately there’s some serious gossip and mud-slinging to enjoy too. (Ben Schot)