Michael McClure Letters
Correspondence from McClure to Henry Wenning, American book dealer and publisher, 1961-1965.
- McClure, Michael (Person)
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Michael McClure (October 20, 1932 - May 4, 2020) is an American poet, playwright, songwriter, and novelist born in Marysville, Kansas. After moving to San Francisco as a young man, he found fame as one of the five poets (including Allen Ginsberg) who read at the famous San Francisco Six Gallery reading in 1955 rendered in barely fictionalized terms in Jack Kerouac's Dharma Bums. He soon became a key member of the Beat Generation and is immortalized as "Pat McLear" in Kerouac's Big Sur.
McClure's first book of poetry, Passage, was published in 1956. His poetry is heavily infused with an awareness of nature, especially in the animal consciousness that often lies dormant in mankind. Not only an awareness of nature, but the poems are organized in an organic fashion, continuing with his appreciation of nature's purity.
McClure has since published eight books of plays and four collections of essays, including essays on Bob Dylan and the environment. His fourteen books of poetry include Jaguar Skies, Dark Brown, Huge Dreams, Rebel Lions, Rain Mirror and Plum Stones. McClure famously read selections of his Ghost Tantra poetry series to the caged lions in the San Francisco Zoo. His work as a novelist includes the autobiographical The Mad Cub and The Adept.
On January 14, 1967, McClure read at the epochal Human Be-In event in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and transcended his Beat label to become an important member of the 1960s Hippie counterculture.
McClure would later court controversy as a playwright with his play The Beard. The play tells of a fictional encounter in the blue velvet of eternity between Billy the Kid and Jean Harlow and is a theatrical exploration of his "Meat Politics" theory, in which all human beings are "bags of meat."
Other plays include Josephine The Mouse Singer and VKTMS. He had an eleven-year run as playwright-in-residence with San Francisco's Magic Theatre where his operetta "Minnie Mouse and the Tap-Dancing Buddha" had an extended run. He has made two television documentaries – The Maze and September Blackberries – and is featured in several films including The Last Waltz where he reads from The Canterbury Tales; Beyond the Law, and, most prominently, The Hired Hand.
Source of Acquisition
Accession number 1247. Gift of Henry Wenning, Janaury 4, 1971
Processed January 1971 by Holly Hall
- Michael McClure Letters
- Description rules
- Language of description
- 2021 March 17: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.
Collecting Area Details
Part of the Manuscripts Collecting Area
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
St. Louis MO 63130 US