San Francisco Beat: Talking with the Poets by David Meltzer, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
San Francisco Beat: Talking with the Poets

San Francisco Beat: Talking with the Poets

by David Meltzer

Essential interviews with makers of the San Francisco Beat Scene by one of their own.


Essential interviews with makers of the San Francisco Beat Scene by one of their own.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Meltzer a poet who's maintained the edge he sharpened fighting conformity back in the heady days of the Beats, carries the battle forward in this engrossing volume of in-depth interviews with such fellow travelers as Gary Snyder and Phillip Whalen, who have thrived over the decades and become tremendously influencial poets and spirirual leaders. His 1969 encounters with the late great poets William Everson, Kenneth Rexroth, and Lew Welch capture the intensity and probity of that inspired time and are invaluable works of oral history, as are the striking juxtapositiond between Meltzer's past and present discussions with the still radical and thrilling Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Michael McClure. Eloquent and knowledgeable, these poets and others...speak creatively and ardently about things that matter: poetry, music, war, capitalism, ecology, religion, philosophy..
Ray Gonzalez
Thirty years ago, David Meltzer interviewed key figure from the San Francisco Beat generation and published them in The San Francisco Poets, long out of print. This new edition reprints those classic interviews with Kenneth Rexroth, Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, William Everson, and Lew Welch, along with recent conversations with Diane di Prima, Jack Hirschman, Joanne Kyger, Philip Lamantia, Jack Micheline, Gary Snyder. and Philip Whalen. Together these writers represent what is arguably the most important literary movement in post World War II American poetry. Insights by di Prima and Kyger on women Beat writers do away with long-held notions that only male writers were important to this West Coast renaissance. The Rexroth interview is timeless and shows what a visionary and prophet he was.
The Bloomsbury Review
Jonathan Kirsch
The Beats go on, as David Meltzer allows us to see by including the transcripts of 13 memorable and illuminating conversations wuth such members of the Beat generation as Ferlinghetti, Kenneth Rexroth, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder and William Everson. All of the interviews are raw and edgy, full of ramblings and moments of rhetorical excess, yet are always intimate and illuminating.
LA Times
San Francisco poet Meltzer interviews colleagues such as Diane de Prima, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, and Philip Whalen. The volume also reprints his interviews published 30 years ago in with Kenneth Rexroth, McClure, Ferlinghetti, Willam Everson, and Lew Welch. The result is a chronicle of the 1950s and 1960s beat scene there. It is not indexed. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Kirkus Reviews
The recusant Beats, like a whiff of cayenne, have a way of gaining your attention, and here they direct their monkey-wrenching, fortifying voices (in 13-part disharmony) at the microphone of poet Meltzer's tape recorder, conveying a whole lot of history and a bracing handful of ideas and opinions. Part of this collection was published 30 years ago as The San Francisco Poets, in which five poets (Kenneth Rexroth, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, William Everson, Michael McClure, and Lew Welch) gave vent to their disarming, discomfiting, disruptive dissent, all the while playful and alive to the vernacular. To this group have been added recent interviews with Diane di Prima, Jack Hirschman, Joanne Kyger, Philip Lamantia, Meltzer, Jack Micheline, Gary Snyder, and Philip Whalen-plus updates with Ferlinghetti and McClure. Meltzer (Poetics/New College of Calif.) emphasizes the poets' personal experiences and influences, which collectively is more incandescent than any of Joshua's light shows: Hemingway, Raphael Soyer, Cocteau, Surrealism, the San Francisco Libertarian Circle, anarchist youth groups, etc. Rexroth is decidedly the most confrontational, talking of music and war and homegrown American radicalism as if his hair was on fire, while Micheline is the rawest ("I lived my poems. More than some of these intellectual bastards"). Welch also speaks of the immediate, when as a cab driver he read some of his work to his colleagues: "Goddamn, Lewie," one said, "I don't know whether or not that is a poem, but that is the way it is to drive a cab." And Ferlinghetti, wonderfully, carries on from 1969 ("I have nothing to say. I haven't got my crystal spectacles on") to 1999 ("It's a technophiliacconsciousness that seems to be sweeping the world. And more than that, it's that huge all-engulfing corporate monoculture"). The Beats, Meltzer urges us to remember, thought more about life than about poetry. Just now, as we begin to slip into a national slumber somewhat akin to that of the Eisenhower years, it's exhilarating to have this squall line of Beats pass through our consciousness.

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City Lights Books
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5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)

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