Michael McClure was born October 20, 1932 in Marysville, Kansas. He spent his earliest years in Seattle, Washington, where his avid interest in nature and wildlife fed an early aspiration to become a natural scientist. Eventually, McClure travelled to San Francisco and participated in a poetry workshop with Robert Duncan, his earliest experience within the genesis of San Francisco's evolving literary and social movement known as the Beat period.
He joined Philip Lamantia, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder & Philip Whalen as the "unknowns" at the famous Six Gallery reading in 1955. The reading was arranged and promoted by Kenneth Rexroth to showcase a few of his young poet friends. It was an important vehicle for the exposure these poets gained and set forth the Beat period with an increased momentum and social awareness.
McClure frequented the usual haunts of the Beats and spent a lot of this time in the Haight-Ashbury district in the mid-1960's where the "hipsters" became the "hippies". He joined Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder at Golden Gate Park's "Human Be-In" in January of 1967.
McClure is still active as a poet, essayist and playwright. He gives performances of his poetry at colleges such as Stanford, NYU and The University of Arizona. He also performs at clubs in San Diego, Vancouver and New York as well as festivals in Paris, Rome and Amsterdam. He has been featured in several films including Scorsese's The Last Waltz. McClure and Rip Torn played outlaw motorcyclists in Norman Mailer's film Beyond the Law. He has made three TV documentaries, and published numerous books of poetry, plays, two novels and several collections of essays. McClure's journalism appears in Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone.
In the early 90's he joined the Doors' former keyboardist, Ray Manzarek for a series of live poetry readings read to music. They even videotaped one of these performances, titling it "Love Lion".