“NOW IT IS TIME FOR A NATION,/ a spiritual Nation/based/and formed on open freedom,/on flesh and biology…” The antipolitical activism, biologically based aesthetics, and exuberantly sensuous spirituality that have won Michael McClure acclaim since the birth of the San Francisco poetry renaissance in 1955 are affirmed with new range and eloquence in Fragments of Perseus. The title poem presents fragments of an imaginary journal by Perseus, son of Zeus and Danae, slayer of the snake-haired Medusa, and husband of Andromeda. With “The Death of Kim Chuen Louie,” we move from myth to reportage, ancient Greece to modern San Francisco’s Chinatown, where the poet has come upon a murder. Following are “Baja Bundle,” six poems composed under the spell of travel through Baja California, Mexico, as well as invocations, proclamations, love poems, and dream narratives. Radiating symmetrically from a central axis, McClure’s poems spiral across the page with the grace of organisms. As Aram Saroyan has noted, “he sees poetry itself as a ’muscular principle––an athletic song or whisper of fleshly thought,’ and in his poems he is able to make his vision compelling.”
About the Author
Michael McClure, a founding member of the Beat Generation, has long been noted for the popularity of his dynamic poetry performances. At twenty-two he gave his first poetry reading at the legendary Six Gallery event in San Francisco, where Allen Ginsberg first read Howl. He is the co-author of the song “Mercedes Benz” and often performs with musicians, notably Ray Manzarek and Terry Riley.