My vocabulary did this to me.
December 3, 2008 4:49 PM   Subscribe

The poet is a radio. The poet is a liar. The poet is a counterpunching radio. Jack Spicer was a poet, linguist, & early gay rights activist. For a long time, his poetry was out of print and difficult to find, but now Wesleyan University Press has (finally!) published his collected poems. The book takes its title from Spicer’s last words: My Vocabulary Did This to Me.

You can read reviews of the new Collected at and Silliman’s Blog.

There’s more Spicer at PennSound and Jacket Magazine. (The feature in Jacket is from 1999, but it's still excellent.)
posted by Hypocrite_Lecteur (8 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Wow! A Jack Spicer thread. This is why I paid the five bucks.

Stimulating appreciations of Spicer's life and work in Gilbert Sorrentino's Something Said.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:54 PM on December 3, 2008

see also the main buffalo page for Spicer, especially "The Unvert Manifesto and Other Papers Found in the Rare Book Room of the Boston Public Library in the Handwriting of Oliver Charming. by S.".

Man do I love me some disavowed authorship.
posted by felix grundy at 5:30 PM on December 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

Man do I love me some disavowed authorship.

I hear ya. My favorite work "by" Nietzsche is My Sister and I.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:08 PM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Spicer is great but prickly. If I'm not mistaken, he was kind of opposed to the idea of any poet, including himself, publishing anything in the first place. The living act of poetry in front of an audience was the thing for him.

Great stuff. Wicked sense of humor.
posted by bardic at 7:48 PM on December 3, 2008

—mon semblable,—mon frère! Bon appetit.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:44 PM on December 3, 2008

holy crap, Joe Beese, that book is ridiculous. According to a cursory googling there are still unfounded and conflicting rumors all over the place. Did you know that the translator, who had been dead for four years when the book came out, later yielded up to Walter Kaufmann a letter admitting that he had forged it?*

Also, it seems like Spicer had at the least a conflicted relationship to publishing, and published, according to the Silliman's blog link above, his own mimeograph that was not to be distributed in parts east of Berkeley.

The gait of our eastern cities is all wrong, it seems.

*this is probably not true.
posted by felix grundy at 9:25 PM on December 3, 2008

I have nothing to add except that I enjoy me some Spicer. Apparently my "Collected Books of" is now worth money! Although probably not as much now that this has been published. Still, I'm glad it's been published.
posted by Casuistry at 10:45 PM on December 3, 2008

I got introduced to Spicer by way of the great Exact Change anthology. His reading of Imaginary Elegies is, I think, one of the greatest things I ever hope to hear come out of someone's mouth.
posted by $0up at 8:01 AM on December 4, 2008

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