When I Was a Poet

When I Was a Poet
Pocket Poets Number 60





Big Bridge 16

". . . When I Was A Poet, is a masterpiece, every line is exactly where it needs to be. After fifty years of practice this manuscript reflects a master at his zenith."

—Mike Sonksen


Rain Taxi

"For Meltzer, the experience of being a poet is inextricable from the experience of the body in a way that is simultaneously physical and spiritual." -- Julie Babcock


Poetry Flash

"Meltzer is a prolific poet of many modes and voices, quite a few of which are here, love poems, poems out of childhood, a series of "amulets," cryptic short wisdom poems, and much more. These are all tasty, often ironic and/or mysterious, pieces of Davidness to be savored . . . "--Richard Silberg, Poetry Flash


HTML Giant

"This collection presents a strong display of Meltzer's graceful force as a lyric poet. David is at his best when he’s just riffing about writing, getting the language to come together in his head: skull-brain, eyes, nose, mouth, and finally, tongue. The whole messy bag of flesh which it takes to arrive at the poem: 'My blood mixes with plaster / sealing the poem together.' It’s a messy, vital business that gathers together all the experience any one of us is made of; everything and everybody that contributes to our individual shot at being the one composed of many which we are."--Patrick James Dunagan, HTML Giant


KUSF In Exile 07.16.11 9-10 AM Poet As Radio
Jul 16, 2011

Listen to the first part of David Meltzer's interview at Poet as Radio.

- Nicholas Leaskou and Jay Thomas, Poet as Radio

Bloomsbury Review

"Meltzer's work has always been quirky, lyrical, and fresh with a self-respect that jumps right off the page and invites readers into the delight of expression."


DAVID MELTZER: the vintage appendage
Jun 29, 2011

"[Meltzer's] reading was incredible. A classy and animated reader, he seemed to be continually grinning, nodding, and gesturing with his hands. Watching him, I understood what it was to read one's work with utter familiarity. It was like he was simply showing us another tangible part of him, his hand or his arm, something he had grown with over time, something he understood the function of."

- Nicole McFeely, Litseen

David Meltzer reads from When I Was a Poet
Jun 24, 2011

"Accompanied by a reading from his creative partner, Julie Rogers, David Meltzer read at City Lights on June 24th, 2011 from his new collection of poetry, When I Was A Poet. 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 this renowned Beat author."

- City Lights

June's Literary Events
Jun 1, 2011

"Let's just take one stanza from one poem in David Meltzer's When I Was a Poet (City Lights, $11), the just-published 60th installment of City Lights' longstanding Pocket Poets series of paperbacks. It's from the title poem, and it goes like this: 'When I was a Poet/Everything was Possible/there wasn't Anything/that wasn't Poetry.' If the past tense there seems a little wistful, bear in mind that it's from the first poem in the first part of a six-part book (and that part five is called 'Poems'). For Meltzer, even reminiscence is a way of charging ever forward."

- Jonathan Kiefer, SF Weekly

The Maestro: David Meltzer, Part II
May 31, 2011

"As a poet born of typewriter and pen, David's an unconventional computer user; instead of individual poems, each of his files is like a vast notebook for work in a particular vein, sometimes running to hundreds of pages."

- Garrett Caples, The Poetry Foundation

The Maestro: David Meltzer, Part I
May 24, 2011

"A short long poem—the best kind—'When I Was a Poet' has that easy virtuosity born of a lifetime pursuing said occupation."

- Garrett Caples, The Poetry Foundation

The San Francisco Chronicle

"An erudite man with interests that range from Jewish mysticism to jazz, Meltzer is anything but bookish. He writes quick, wry poetry, embedded with wisdom, his short lines delivered in a dancing street vernacular that gathers force as it uncovers fresh discoveries."