Michael McClure

1932 –

Michael McClure was born on October 20, 1932. He attended the Municipal University of Wichita, the University of Arizona, and San Francisco State College, where he earned a BA in 1955. That same year, McClure was asked to organize the Six Gallery Readings, effectively launching the San Francisco Renaissance and the legend of the Beat Poets. His piece “For the Death of 100 Whales,” read during the Gallery Readings, has been credited as a launching point for the eco-poetics movement.

He was also a key figure in the Hippie counterculture of the 1960s, touring with The Doors, co-writing with Janis Joplin, and participating in the Human Be-In at Golden Gate Park.

A playwright, essayist, and poet, McClure’s prolific writing career included over thirty books of poetry, plays, and prose, including most recently Persian Pony (Ekstasis Editions, 2017) and Mephistos and Other Poems (City Lights Publishers, 2016).

“There is no way that you can read a poem by Michael McClure without experiencing some kind of connection with something primal and cosmic,” said writer Juvenal Acosta of McClure’s work, “He has changed the way we speak and read American poetry.”

McClure’s prose has been featured in Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times, Vanity Fair, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Alfred Jarry Award, and a Rockerfeller grant for playwriting. His play The Beard won Best Director and Best Actress in the 1967-68 Obie Awards.

McClure taught poetry at California College of the Arts for forty-three years, and died on May 4, 2020, in Oakland Hills, California.

Selected Bibiliography


Persian Pony (Ekstasis Editions, 2017)
Mephistos and Other Poems (City Lights Publishers, 2016)
Mysteriosos and Other Poems (New Directions Publishing, 2010)
Little Odes and The Raptors (Black Sparrow Press, 1969)
Ghost Tantras (City Lights Publishers, 1964)
Hymns to St. Geryon and Other Poems (The Auerhahn Press, 1959)
Passage (Johnathan Williams, 1956)


The Beard and VKTMS: Two Plays (Grove Press, 1985)
The Mammals (Cranium Press, 1972)


Scratching the Beat Surface: Essays on New Vision from Blake to Kerouac (North Point Press, 1982)