Electric Review

Culture & Criticism Since 2003

The Voice of the Animal Self

GHOST TANTRAS. Michael McClure. City Lights Books.

Ghost Tantras

Cover art courtesy of City Lights Books.

Michael McClure, a founding member of the Beat Generation, has embodied many styles during a legendary 60-year career, one in which he came to reign as one of the most powerful voices in modern poetry. And while he is mostly known for his intense lyricism and unique ability to capture the music of breath in lines, McClure is nonetheless driven by an unrelenting passion to reconnect with the mammal side of being. To this end, Ghost Tantras (first published in 1964), might just be the only book ever written in “beast language.” Basically, this collection of poems serves to document McClure’s personal journey to synthesize the sound of soul talking to spirit: the poet grinding these salty beams of echo into universal capsules that can be seen, tasted, touched and heard. The result is a random gush of syllables that seeps into the full-formed shape of word: this glowing blush of shadow and ink splayed across the hooves of page builds into a bloom as perfect and beautiful and pristine as the first seed of the perpetual garden.

Suddenly, I can hear animals talking through skin in the original sound of myself; and the poet  writes:

“Sheep, rabbits, sharks – awake or dreaming.

The seasons are plushy banners of Maya

waving about me where I stand.

And I ah oohh I am solid velvet.



For more information see City Lights Books.

by John Aiello


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This entry was posted on November 15, 2013 by in 2013, In the Spotlight, November 2013, Rat On Poetry and tagged , , , .
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