Michael McClure of Beat Generation fame celebrated his 80th birthday at Beyond Baroque, Oct. 20.
McClure was a fictionalized character in the Dharma Bums, Desolation Angels and Big Sur, all written by Jack Kerouac.
He read with Allen Ginsberg on the night that Ginsberg first read Howl.
His play, Beard, was raided by the San Francisco Police Department in 1966 and the actors were arrested for obscenity.
McClure has published 31 books and plays between 1956-2010.
He is known for his poems to and about animals, some of which he read on Oct. 20. Michael C. Ford and S.A. Griffin also read.
RAVEN’S FEATHER, EAGLE’S CLAW,
EVERY SONG EVER CHANTED
by the whale hunter
is a collector’s item
and wafts like mountain fog
from node to node before becoming clouds.
puts us in touch with sentiment,
and hurts less than peering forward,
for tomorrow is the shadow of today.
Even the blue jay
gloats over his stash
of brass buttons. See the octopus play
with the exoskeleton
of his prey.
The statement’s convolution
confounds what is already done.
Scarlet flower bugles on the mountain top
overlook the graveyard.
Such elegant music when we make it
(for poets call it music)
in the act
of what we do.
The hand plays hide and seek
with the eye, and we grow
in honor of the game.
Then we dance and the music
follows at our footsteps
and we stop to listen
as it passes by.
Call it animal nature — or name it Civilization.
from Rare Angel (1974)
By Michael McClure