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November 30, 2008
9780819568878
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August 15, 2010
9780819570901
English
508
10 illus.
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February 8, 2012
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My Vocabulary Did This to Me

The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer

Winner of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Award for Poetry (2009)
Winner of the American Book Award (2009)

In 1965, when the poet Jack Spicer died at the age of forty, he left behind a trunkful of papers and manuscripts and a few copies of the seven small books he had seen to press. A West Coast poet, his influence spanned the national literary scene of the 1950s and '60s, though in many ways Spicer's innovative writing ran counter to that of his contemporaries in the New York School and the West Coast Beat movement. Now, more than forty years later, Spicer's voice is more compelling, insistent, and timely than ever. During his short but prolific life, Spicer troubled the concepts of translation, voice, and the act of poetic composition itself. My Vocabulary Did This to Me is a landmark publication of this essential poet's life work, and includes poems that have become increasingly hard to find and many published here for the first time.

About the Authors

JACK SPICER (1925–;1965) published books including After Lorca (1957), Billy the Kid (1959), and The Holy Grail (1962). PETER GIZZI is a poet and author of numerous books, including The Outernationale (2007), who lives in Holyoke, Massachusetts. KEVIN KILLIAN is a poet, novelist, critic, and playwright living in San Francisco.

Reviews

"As a measure of our historical distance from Spicer's personality, a new generation of editors, the poets Peter Gizzi and Kevin Killian, moves beyond the Spicer 'legend' in order to present the full range of his poetry to readers both familiar and unfamiliar with his work."—Zach Finch, Boston Review

"The book is one of the most important volumes of poetry published in the past 50 years. The poems are simply wonderful, and Spicer's mature work is some of the best ever written by an American."—Ron Silliman

"Spicer is an interesting poet on several levels, all of them deep and rich with deposits that reward an earnest dig. He is, I think, on a par with Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams in grilling the elaborative infrastructure of how we draw or are drawn to specialized conclusions with the use of metaphor, and it is to his particular brilliance as a lyric poet, comparable to Frank O'Hara that the contradictions, competing desires and unexpected conundrums of investigating one's verbal stream are made comprehensible to the senses, a joy to the ear. No one, really no one wrote as distinctly as the long obscure Spicer did, and editors Gizzi, Killian, and publisher Wesleyan Press are to be thanked for restoring a major American voice to our shared canon."—Ted Butler, Oyster Boy Review

"An epic of irritation by a poet who professed no epic intent, the collected poetry of Jack Spicer is essential reading. Acerbic, wary, aggressive, aggrieved, it rides and puts it own spin on a recovering (would-be recovering) romanticism, a signal travail informing twentieth-century poetics."—Nathaniel Mackey

"His vocabulary did indeed do this to him, but perhaps with this handsome edition, love and reappraisal will let him go on."—Edward Champion, The Los Angeles Times

"You finish My Vocabulary Did This to Me feeling you've come in contact with an original artist and a genuine one, a writer who is, to borrow from Wordsworth, 'fierce, moody, patient, venturous, modest, shy'. You also finish the book thinking that these poems are ready to find a new audience."—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

"As a measure of our historical distance from Spicer's personality, a new generation of editors, the poets Peter Gizzi and Kevin Killian, moves beyond the Spicer 'legend' in order to present the full range of his poetry to readers both familiar and unfamiliar with his work."—Zach Finch, Boston Review

"My Vocabulary Did This To Me These final words serve as an apt title for Peter Gizzi and Kevin Killian's wonderfully edited Spicer collection, the first thorough gathering of the poet's extraordinary and challenging writing to appear since the '70s."—Erik Davis, Bookforum

Endorsements

"The book is one of the most important volumes of poetry published in the past 50 years. The poems are simply wonderful, and Spicer's mature work is some of the best ever written by an American."—Ron Silliman

"An epic of irritation by a poet who professed no epic intent, the collected poetry of Jack Spicer is essential reading. Acerbic, wary, aggressive, aggrieved, it rides and puts it own spin on a recovering (would-be recovering) romanticism, a signal travail informing twentieth-century poetics."—Nathaniel Mackey
Wesleyan University Press
Wesleyan Poetry Series

9780819570901 : my-vocabulary-did-this-to-me-spicer-gizzi-killian
Paperback / softback
508 Pages
$27.95 USD
9780819568878 : my-vocabulary-did-this-to-me-spicer-gizzi-killian
Hardback
508 Pages
$39.95 USD
9780819571090 : my-vocabulary-did-this-to-me-spicer-gizzi-killian
Electronic book text
$22.99 USD

Other Titles by Jack Spicer

The House That Jack Built

Peter Gizzi
Jul 2011 - Wesleyan University Press
$19.99 USD - Electronic book text

The House That Jack Built

edited by Peter Gizzi, Jack Spicer, OtherPeter Gizzi
Jul 1998 - Wesleyan University Press
$24.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Other Titles by Peter Gizzi

Now It's Dark

Peter Gizzi
Dec 2020 - Wesleyan University Press
$35.00 USD - Hardback
$15.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Archeophonics

Peter Gizzi
Oct 2017 - Wesleyan University Press
$24.95 USD - Hardback
$15.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$12.99 USD - Electronic book text

The Collected Poems of Barbara Guest

Barbara Guest, edited by Hadley Guest, OtherPeter Gizzi
May 2016 - Wesleyan University Press
$27.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$22.99 USD - Electronic book text

Other Titles from Wesleyan Poetry Series

Conjure

Rae Armantrout
Oct 2020 - Wesleyan University Press
$35.00 USD - Hardback
$15.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Xicancuicatl

Alfred Arteaga
Oct 2020 - Wesleyan University Press
$65.00 USD - Hardback
$24.95 USD - Paperback / softback

A Forest of Names

Ian Boyden
Sep 2020 - Wesleyan University Press
$35.00 USD - Hardback
$15.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$12.99 USD - Electronic book text

Other Titles in POETRY / General

BAX 2020

Seth Abramson
Dec 2020 - Wesleyan University Press
$55.00 USD - Hardback
$19.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Bread Crumbs

Cynthia Tremblay
Jun 2020 - Lynx House Press
$12.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Sleeping and Waking

Albert Goldbarth
May 2020 - Lost Horse Press
$18.00 USD - Paperback / softback