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David Meltzer Edit Profile

educator , musician , author

David Meltzer, author, musician, educator. Coordinating Council of Literature Magazines grantee, 1973-1974, 81, National Endowment of Arts grantee for creative writing, 1974, for public, 1975, California Arts Council grantee, 1979; recipient Tombstone award for poetry John Ryan Morris Memorial Foundation, 1992. Board directors Before Columbus Foundation, since 1977.


Meltzer was born in Rochester, New York, the son of a cellist and a harpist. His parents separated, and he accompanied his father to Los Angeles in 1954.


Student, Los Angeles City College, 1955-1956;student, University California at Los Angeles, 1956-1957.


Lawrence Ferlinghetti has described him as "one of the greats of post-World-War-Two San Francisco poets and musicians." Meltzer came to prominence with inclusion of his work in the anthology, The New American 1945-1960. In 1940, the family moved to Brooklyn. At the age of 11, he wrote his first poem, on the topic of the New York City subway system.

The family moved once again to Rockville Centre. In 1957, he moved to San Francisco and became part of a circle of writers based around Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan. In 1958, he recorded an album of his poems with a jazz combo for Jim Dickson on Dickson's Vaja label.

The album was not released but finally saw the light of day in 2006 on Sierra Records titled "David Meltzer: Poet with Jazz 1958." Jim Dickson had earlier recorded Lord Buckley, Lenny Bruce and the Page Cavanaugh Trio. Later Jim would be A&R producer for World Pacific and Elektra Records as well as discovering and producing the rock group, the Byrds. In 1968, David Meltzer signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.

Work One of the key poets of the Beat generation, Meltzer is also a jazz guitarist, Cabalist scholar, and the author of more than 50 books of poetry and prose. 2005 saw the publication of David's Copy: The Selected Poems of David Meltzer (edited by Michael Rothenberg and with an introduction by Jerome Rothenberg), which provides a current overview of Meltzer's work. Meltzer's Beat Thing (La Alameda Press) is his epic poem on the Beat generation.

Jack Hirschman said of it: Meltzer's other books include, No Eyes, poems on Lester Young, and a book of interviews, San Francisco Beat: Talking with the Poets (City Lights Books). Meltzer taught at the New College of California in the Poetics Program,. which was originally founded by Robert Duncan. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.



Board of directors Before Columbus Foundation, since 1977.


Married Christina Meyer, April 1, 1958. Children– Jennifer, Margaret, Amanda, Adam Benjamin ben David.

Louis Meltzer

Roseamunde (Lovelace) Meltzer

Christina Meyer

Jennifer Meltzer

Margaret Meltzer

Amanda Meltzer

Adam Benjamin ben David Meltzer