Luis Garcia is a Berkeley native who attended Berkeley High (“a dropout! but later dropped in to classes”) and Contra Costa Junior College. In 1963, Garcia spent a year in Chile, where his first book was published, becoming associated with poet Nicanor Parra and meeting the surrealist painter Matta and (on returning to the Bay Area) with Chilean poet Fernando Alegria, who taught at UC Berkeley and Stanford.
Garcia met poet Robert Creeley “serendipitously” at the Berkeley Poetry Conference in 1965, later visiting him when he taught at SF State, living in Bolinas.
“Out of that friendship came a lot of things that have influenced what I consider my better poetry,” Garcia said. “I have a history of failure at academic pursuits, but lifelong friendships with the teachers outside the classroom came out of that.”
“I listened to a lot of jazz,” Garcia continued, “the notions of improvisation, of the transformation of notes—hitting them in a different way—of inflection and intonation influenced my style, one of brevity and lyricism,” which qualities are exemplified in “Music Man”:
He plays himself
like a violin
(with no strings
He’s a snowball in hell
but the song
in his head