I remember one evening some years back when Robin Blaser was in town giving a reading, and afterwards we were driving him and David Farwell through Golden Gate Park—from the back seat of our car Robin casually mentioned that he and Holt Spicer, the poet's surviving brother, were donating the remaining Spicer papers to the Bancroft. Kevin who was driving, froze up and he nearly screamed. "What! But then I'll never get my hands of them." (Because processing of a major archive is notoriously slow.) But Robin quickly added that he and Holt had made it a condition of the deed of gift that Kevin and Peter (Gizzi) would have full access immediately, even before processing began—because K. and P. had already started working on their edition of Spicer's collected poems.
Considerably relieved, Kevin drove them back to Fran Herndon's place and the next thing I knew, the papers were in Berkeley, and once again I became a "Spicer widow" because he was over there every chance he got for what seemed like a year.
He was there so often that somehow Tanya Hollis wangled him a sort of fellowship by which he and Peter would sort out the papers, and the library would pay him 10 dollars an hour. "I would have paid them ten dollars an hour!" marvelled Kevin. And that, or so I take it, is what this meeting is going to be about—the labor of processing a large archive. Also speaking will be Tanya Hollis herself, as well as Jocelyn Saidenberg, both of whom were working for the Bancroft at the time and who were really responsible for making sure that Kevin followed certain protocols.
And also for this meeting Kevin has rounded up a host of the younger poets and artists who volunteered to assist him and Peter during many difficult months of transcribing thousands of pages of manuscript material, and other dirty work. I got to know some of these young writers at this time and they have become like family friends—Jason Morris, Logan Ryan Smith, John Sakkis and Brandon Brown. They will be talking about what it was like to slave away as unpaid serfs for Kevin and Peter, and some of them will be reading poems by Spicer which they actually discovered themselves! In a class of her own is Kelly Holt, who is editing Spicer's letters for Wesleyan and who is writing her dissertation on the ties between Spicer and Ernst Kantorowicz, the German refugee historian who taught Spicer, Duncan and Blaser in the immediate postwar years at UC Berkeley. Kelly will be speaking too. Funny how it was just one trunk but look how it started to separate out after a few months . . .
And now the papers are fully sorted out—well, almost so, there will always be more work to be done—and you can see the finding aid, compiled mostly by Kevin and Jocelyn, at the guide to the Jack Spicer Papers.
So if you're curious and you want to come by, you can find the address and directions at the Nonsite Collective's invaluable website.