Jack McCarthy (writer)
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McCarthy was born in Massachusetts. He began writing poetry in the 1960s, but did not begin performing his works for audiences until the 1990s. It was then that he was introduced to slam poetry at the Cantab Lounge in Boston, Massachusetts, after intending to get his daughter interested in the artform. McCarthy described his performance style as "stand-up poetry," in that the work he does on stage is not subject to a specific regimen of poetic style, but is loose enough in form to be humorous and performed in a manner similar to that of stand-up comedy. He was awarded "Best Standup Poet" by the Boston Phoenix in the 1990s.
McCarthy relocated with his wife to the Seattle, Washington area later in life. In 2010 and 2011, he taught performance workshops for the MFA in poetry program at New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire. 
In 1996, McCarthy competed and took a spot on the Boston poetry slam team and went to the National Poetry Slam held that year in Portland, Oregon. While he was there, Paul Devlin, a filmmaker, was shooting a documentary on the phenomenon of slam poetry and utilized McCarthy extensively throughout the film.
In 1999, McCarthy was named "Best Stand-up Poet" in The Boston Phoenix Best Poll.
In 2000, McCarthy was a semifinalist in the Individual category of the National Poetry Slam as a member of the Worcester, Mass., team.
In 2007, McCarthy was the winner in the Haiku category at the Individual World Poetry Slam.
Donna Seaman, writing for the American Library Association Booklist, said of McCarthy's first book, 'Say Goodnight, Grace Notes: New and Corrected poems': "McCarthy is now not only a much-loved star in the performance poetry world, he's also a vibrant and inspiriting poet on the page. A self-described working guy who has battled a number of unhealthy addictions, McCarthy brings his compelling experiences to his poetry with nimble humor, hard-won wisdom, and a raconteur's knack for telling diabolically barbed stories. In his admiring introduction, poet Thomas Lux praises McCarthy for his 'natural, unforced,' voice, and for his unfailing lucidity, and indeed, McCarthy is concrete, candid, personal, and utterly captivating. He's also caustic, sexy, and smart. As he writes with wry insight about his boyhood, Catholicism, the Red Sox, asteroids, his daughters, old cars, advertising, our time as the 'Golden Age of the Opinion,' and his love for his wife, he casually but resoundingly extrapolates invaluable lessons in living from each memory, episode, observation, and meditation."
In 2006, the poet and critic Victor D. Infante wrote about McCarthy in OC Weekly, saying "The small details of quiet, desperate lives get glossed over in the heavy traffic of media, the sweat and exhaustion of everyday labor lost in inhuman terms like 'rightsizing' and obscenities of massive unemployment being seen as irrelevant to an 'improving economy.' Daily, it seems less and less like there's any value placed on everyday life. McCarthy looks at that and still finds something beautiful; his affections are not just reserved for the glaringly lovely, but for what gets left behind in the face of such dazzle. 'The first robin of spring/is like the clicking of a tumbler/in some marvelously complex lock," he writes. "But there's never anything about/the last robin of fall/that announces it/as last.'
"What's truly remarkable is McCarthy's ability to convey that beauty with an utter lack of pretension. 'I just have hairtrigger tear ducts, and always/at all the wrong things: supermarket openings; Tom Bodett saying, 'We'll leave the light on for ya.' Elsewhere, he writes of his and his wife's propensity for run-down cars. 'Sometimes I get home from work/and Carol's ecstatic./'Jack, I met the most wonderful/towtruck driver today … We had the most incredible conversation!/He's a very unusual person.' … a couple years with me she's on/a first name basis with every/towtruck driver in Middlesex County. Triple-A has us on speed dial.'"
In a 2012 review of McCarthy's book, "What I Saw," in the journal "Union Station," poet Mindy Nettifee wrote:
"The opening set in 'What I Saw' is a walk through Jack’s personal museum of masculinity—sexual urges and authority figures, fathers and sons, baseball and anger. The most ambitious and wrenching is 'Magnum Iter,' a rich reflection on his own difficult rite of passage. There’s an intimacy to it I think I’m prepared for, but then I’m not. By the second act, I’m tearing up, and by the third act, when he posits that, 'If we survive the terrorism of/ our very maleness, we arrive,' I’m ready on page 22 to call it my favorite poem in the book.
"But then 'Phlogiston: Jack McCarthy’s Universe' arrives. It’s a poem for his failed marriage to the mother of his daughters, built on the guiding metaphor of a long-debunked scientific element that was believed to have negative weight. By the second stanza I’m swooning as he makes his turn into the real topic— 'An element of negative weight:/ I love that explanation for/ the brilliance of its wrongness.' And of course, the book marches on, and just when I’m getting that woozy beauty sugar high, he delivers Fava Beans (& Sour Grapes) and straight off compares an acquired taste for poetry to Hannibel Lecter’s preference for human flesh, and…I actually cannot ruin this poem for you if you have not heard or read it by discussing it further. It’s just too perfect."
"SlamNation," directed by Paul Devlin
Say Goodnight, Grace Notes: New and Corrected Poems (EM Press 2003)
Almost A Remembrance: Shorter Poems (Moon Pie Press 2011)
What I Saw (EM Press 2012)
Drunks and Other Poems of Recovery (Write Bloody 2013)
- Jack McCarthy's obituary in The Boston Globe
- Jack McCarthy's Website
- Archived abstract of 2001 Boston Globe article on Jack
- Watch Jack McCarthy recite a poem at Open-Door Poetry
- Poetry.LA's video of Jack McCarthy's reading at Two Idiots Peddling Poetry, The Ugly Mug in Orange, CA, 6/24/09
- Brave Losers: Jack McCarthy's everyman poems
- SpokenHeard with Jack McCarthy and Susan Dobbe Chase
- Jack McCarthy performing "Careful What You Ask For" live at Washington DC's Snap Judgement
- The Boston Phoenix 1999 Best Poll names Jack McCarthy "Best Stand-up Poet"
- Jack McCarthy quoted at the end of Roger Ebert's review of SlamNation
- Remembering Jack McCarthy
- Poem: "Irish History Explained in 16 Lines (or Did You Ever Wonder Why So Many of the Great Writers Are Irish?)" in The Worcester Review
- 'Union Station' book review: 'What I Saw,' by Jack McCarthy
- "Jack McCarthy Proved That Poetry Matters" by Boston Globe columnist Joanna Weiss
- "The Best - Arts & Entertainment". Boston Phoenix. Retrieved 2013-01-19.
- "SpokenHeard with Jack McCarthy and Susan Dobbe Chase 10/07 by SpokenHeard". Blog Talk Radio. 2012-10-07. Retrieved 2013-01-19.