Jack Spicer

January 30, 1925 – August 17, 1965, was an American poet often identified with the San Francisco Renaissance. In 2009, My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer won the American Book Award for poetry. He spent most of his writing life in San Francisco and spent the years 1945 to 1955 at the University of California, Berkeley, where he began writing, doing work as a research linguist, and publishing poetry. Through his alliance with Robert Duncan and Robin Blaser he forged a new kind of poetry, and together they referred to their common work as the Berkeley Renaissance. His poetry of this period is collected in One Night Stand and Other Poems (1980). In 1954, he co founded the Six Gallery in San Francisco, which soon became famous as the scene of the October 1955 Six Gallery reading that launched the West Coast Beat movement. In 1956, he began working on After Lorca, during which he began to practice what he called “poetry as dictation.” As such, he is acknowledged as a precursor and early inspiration for the Language poets. He died as a result of alcoholism. Since the posthumous publication of The Collected Books of Jack Spicer (first published in 1975), his popularity and influence has steadily risen, affecting poetry throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. In 1994, The Tower of Babel: Jack Spicer’s Detective Novel was published. A biography, Jack Spicer and the San Francisco Renaissance by Lewis Ellingham and Kevin Killian (Hanover, New Hamphire, Wesleyan University Press,) was published in 1998.