A classic book of poetics by a major Beat Generation poet, published in a beautiful gift edition.
"The poem is perhaps the highest verbal form of communication. It illuminates and it conceals. It is as precise and as vague as a mirror."—David Meltzer, Two-Way Mirror
Two-Way Mirror is a classic book of poetics by Beat Generation poet David Meltzer. Written in short remarks, autobiographical anecdotes, and inspirational quotations drawn from philosophical, ethnographic, and literary sources, Two-Way Mirror is both a nondidactic guide to the art Meltzer has devoted his life to, and a literary pleasure in itself. Attractively bound and printed in a deluxe gift edition, and featuring Meltzer's collection of found artwork collaged from thrift-store grammar books, this new and expanded edition retains the charm of the original while updating it for the present day.
Building upon the version he self-published in 1977, Meltzer has written additional material that considers the effect of technological developments since the book's publication, as well as an foreword in which he reflects on the history of the volume, its inception and its usefulness. With its various writing prompts, Two-Way Mirror has proven to be both inspirational and practical, a teaching tool and a guide to creativity that makes the perfect gift for poets at any stage of development.
Praise for Two-Way Mirror:
"David Meltzer had set out, when he was very young, to write a long poem called The History of Everything, an ambition that his later poetry brought ever closer to fulfillment. Here, in Two-Way Mirror, he shows us the underpinnings for such an enterprise: a brilliant & wise work as rich in insights & discoveries today as when it was first published in 1977. I know of no better amalgam of poetry & poetics & no better introduction to the ways in which poetry can emerge for us & lead us beyond ourselves & toward our own fulfillments. Meltzer's grace of mind & the life of poetry that surrounds it make the case complete."––Jerome Rothenberg
"A great book of learning from a lifetime's thoughts of the poem. Ramble, scribble, tickle, lightbulb! Timely and highly worthwhile."—Clark Coolidge
"This heterogenous master volume is filled with advice, speculation, enthusiasm, new and ancient esoterica, play, collage, resistance, creative and useful definitions of major poetic terms, practical counsel about how to read and write poetry and so much more. All this makes it not only an idiosyncratic and welcome guide to reading and writing poetry, but also a kind of poem itself. Reading Two-Way Mirror, I feel continually surprised, excited, alive. This book makes me want to make poems, and readers, beware: if you are not already a poet, this book could very well turn you into one."––Matthew Zapruder, author of Sun Bear (Copper Canyon, 2015) and Why Poetry (Ecco Press, 2016)
"Invaluable for anyone who reads or writes poetry, or has a restless desire of any kind, this wondrous, zany compendium gives us 'a biography of poetry' that directly enters our veins, bypassing all the crud and restoring our sense of the art, and David Meltzer is a champion of the impossible to have compiled it. Out of print since 1977, this new expanded edition is a gift of delight and wisdom––keep it in your bag by day and by your bed at night."––Mary Ruefle
"This is a marvelously ingenious re-edition of a small classic with a fresh introduction, clever retro pictures, and a highly personal conclusion. Meltzer, one of the very last Beat poets still standing (and writing!) offers to young people in particular a provocative guide on how to think about becoming a poet and how to be a poet, drawing upon the transhistorical, shamanic wisdom and memory that are the poet's basic tools. Two-Way Mirror will be widely read and highly valued."––Paul Buhle, editor of The Beats: A Graphic History
About the Author:
David Meltzer is a poet, novelist, editor, and musician. He has edited many anthologies, including SF Beat: Talking with the Poets. His most recent book is When I Was a Poet, Number 60 in the City Lights Pocket Poets Series. Lawrence Ferlinghetti has called him "one of the greats of post-World War Two San Francisco poets and musicians."