Heroes are hard to find ( 76 )

Michael McClure

( October 20, 1932 – May 4, 2020 )

With great sadness, City Lights wishes to note the dead of our friend, the legendary beat poet Michael McClure, who passed away March 4 due to complications from a stroke he suffered last year. A larger than life figure of American poetry, McClure first rose to prominence in 1965 when he read his poem “For the dead of 100 whales” at the famous Six Gallery reading where Allen Ginsberg debuted “Howl”. His association with City Lights dates as far back as, 1961, when, with Lawrence Ferlinghetti  and David Meltzer, he co-edited Journal for The Protections of All Beings; City Lights subsequently published his Meat Science Essays  ( 1963 ) and distributed his self-published Ghost Tantras  ( 1964 ), which the press would republished in 2003.

McClure’s accomplishments over the course of his career as a poet, playwright, novelist, journalist, essayist, and performer are staggering. He collaborated with artists like Wallace Berman and Bruce Conner; roared at lions in a episode of Richard O. Moore’s public TV documentary series USA Poetry ( 1965 ); wrote and staged the controversial play The Beard ( 1966 ); read to tens of thousands of people at the Human Be-In ( 1967 ); co-wrote Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz” ( 1970 ); appeared in films like Peter Fonda’s “The Hired Hand” ( 1971 ) and Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Waltz” ( 1978 ); won two Obie awards  for his Off-Broadway plays ; performed and recorded with musicians like Ray Manzarek and Terry Riley; and published over a dozen volumes of his poetry. His final book with City Lights, “Mephistos and Other Poems”, appeared in 2016.     

( City Lights Booksellers & Publishers )