After Jack

By Garry Thomas Morse

After Jack
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Jack Spicer, the barroom soothsayer of the ?Berkeley Renaissance,” forged a new kind of poetry with Robert Duncan and Robin Blaser in the decade 1945?1955, grounded in their ?queer genealogy” of Arthur Rimbaud, Federico García Lorca and other gay writers. Beginning his ... Read more


Overview

Jack Spicer, the barroom soothsayer of the ?Berkeley Renaissance,” forged a new kind of poetry with Robert Duncan and Robin Blaser in the decade 1945?1955, grounded in their ?queer genealogy” of Arthur Rimbaud, Federico García Lorca and other gay writers. Beginning his famous serial poem, After Lorca, in 1956, Spicer described it to Robin Blaser a year later:
I enclose my eight latest ?translations. ” Transformations might be a better word. Several are originals and most of the rest change the poem vitally. I can’t seem to make anybody understand this or what I’m doing. They look blank or ask what the spanish is for a word that isn’t in the spanish or praise (like Duncan did) an original poem as typically Lorca. What I am trying to do is establish a tradition. When I’m through ? I’d like someone as good as I am to translate these translations into French (or Pushtu) adding more. Do you understand? No. Nobody does.
Clearly, Spicer had not anticipated the birth of Garry Thomas Morse.

Not merely an homage to Jack Spicer, but also a tribute to his Orphic conception of the serial poem, After Jack is a palimpsestuous attempt to achieve the dark art of nekuia, to encourage the means of poetic transmission and to divine the polyphony of both Federico García Lorca and Jack Spicer as their voices interweave, transform and become inexorably entangled with a fresh and undeniably peculiar, disturbingly profane authorial voice.

Only via the enchanted act of re:writing can Billy the Kid make explicit the homosexual subtext of Gore Vidal’s 1955 TV play The Left-Handed Gun, or Walt Whitman turn into an apocalyptic figure, or the knights of the Round Table turn into the enlightened circle of the poet’s friends. But then, as Jack said, ?we were never friends. ”

Garry Thomas Morse

Garry Thomas Morse grew up on the BC coast and now lives in Winnipeg. He has published several collections of poetry, notably Discovery Passages, about his Kwakwaka'wakw Indigenous ancestors, shortlisted for the Governor General's Award and the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, and Prairie Harbour, also shortlisted for a Governor General's Award. He has twice been shortlisted for the national Re-Lit Award for fiction, and has served as the Jack McClelland Writer-in-Residence at the University of Toronto and the Carol Shields Writer-in-Residence at the University of Winnipeg.

Reviews

"Morse's words are cutting. He ravages language, but thankfully maintains a subtle humour throughout. This book is a love story between Jack Spicer, Garry Thomas Morse, language, and you. "
— Geist

"In After Jack, Morse has stepped firmly onto the ground occupied by George Bowering's Kerrisdale Elegies, where translation crosses boundaries of space, time, culture, and language, laying the common property of the poem bare?and gasping for air. Take a deep breath. Now dive back in. "
— Stephen Collis

"In After Jack, Morse has stepped firmly onto the ground occupied by George Bowering's Kerrisdale Elegies, where translation crosses boundaries of space, time, culture, and language, laying the common property of the poem bare?and gasping for air. Take a deep breath. Now dive back in. "
— Stephen Collis

"After Jack is rich in imaginings—and in realities of Lorca-memories and in shimmerings and reflections of the grail. "
— Michael McClure

"Morse's words are cutting. He ravages language, but thankfully maintains a subtle humour throughout. This book is a love story between Jack Spicer, Garry Thomas Morse, language, and you. "
— Geist

"Far too clever for its own good, After Jack is a large rabbit-eared radio, indeed. "
— Commonline

"After Jack is rich in imaginings—and in realities of Lorca-memories and in shimmerings and reflections of the grail. "
— Michael McClure

"In After Jack, Morse has stepped firmly onto the ground occupied by George Bowering's Kerrisdale Elegies, where translation crosses boundaries of space, time, culture, and language, laying the common property of the poem bare?and gasping for air. Take a deep breath. Now dive back in. "
— Stephen Collis

"Far too clever for its own good, After Jack is a large rabbit-eared radio, indeed. "
— Commonline

"Morse's words are cutting. He ravages language, but thankfully maintains a subtle humour throughout. This book is a love story between Jack Spicer, Garry Thomas Morse, language, and you. "
—Geist

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