Lorca –> Spicer –> Moore


Dear Lorca, I would like to make poems out of real objects. The
lemon to be a lemon that the reader could cut and squeeze-a real lemon
like a newspaper in a collage is a real newspaper. I would like the
moon in my poems to be a real moon, one which could suddenly be covered
with a cloud that has nothing to do with the poem, a moon utterly
independent of images.
-Jack Spicer, After Lorca (From Francis Ponge on the rue de la Chaussee d’Antin)

In this way, Marianne Moore (who would later write about the Eliotic qualities of Spicer’s”Imaginary Elegies” in her review of Donald Allen’s anthology The New American Poetry) becomes both a sampled voice and a mirrored reader throughout After Lorca, in which her poem ” Poetry” is reflected and fragmented. Spicer’s letter to Lorca about wanting the real to appear in the poem – “Live moons, live lemons, live boys in bathing suits” (After Lorca,34) – echoes Moore’s sense of poetry as a “place for the genuine. Hands that can grasp, eyes that can dilate, hair that can rise, if it must”(40). As if insisting that his poems fulfill Moore’s famous demand that poems provide “imaginary gardens with real toads in them” (1, 31; Moore, 41), Spicer breaks the mirroring surface separating life and art with a turbulence repeatedly declared by the intrusion of frogs and splashes within the mirroring surface of a pool,particularly in “Narcissus”: “How wide awake the frogs are. They won’t stay out of the surface in which my madness and your madness mirrors itself” (After Lorca, 35).

–from TEXTUAL MIRRORING, Peter Gizzi: Afterword (excerpt) to Jack Spicer’s Vancouver Lecture 3 (June 17, 1965)


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