A dual milestone in City Lights history, When I Was a Poet is volume 60 of the Pocket Poets Series as well as our first book of poems by renowned Beat author David Meltzer. The title piece is an ambitious work by a master at the height of his powers, a spiritual assessment of the meaning of a lifetime spent writing poetry. Also included are portraits of key figures in the poet's life, including Semina artist Wallace Berman, as well as "California Dreamin’," a reminiscence of Beat-era bohemian life. Among its other highlights are the vintage, previously uncollected series, “French Broom,” a nutty homage to “Mr. Peanut,” a section of mystical “amulets,” and complete versions of “Night Reals” and “Dogma,” which appear here for the first time. With its profound meditations on love, loss, aging, and death, When I Was a Poet is a substantial contribution to American poetry by one of its foremost living practitioners.
"With this primal book, David Meltzer takes his place among the great poets of his generation." --Lawrence Ferlinghetti