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My Friend Jack: A Poetry Collection

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Jack McCarthy lived his life like an open mic. He invited everyone in, encouraged them to share their stories, always gave them space for their experiences, and, most importantly, he listened. He listened, and he listened, and then, when we thought no one else would ever want to hear us, or help us, Jack listened some more. It didn't matter where he was, California, Boston, Seattle, Bellingham, Spain, New York; Jack could always create community. If you knew him, you know you were lucky to have crossed paths with this quick witted and often hilariously self deprecating Spoken Word master. If you knew him, then you know that when Jack wasn't listening, he was writing. When he passed away in January 2013, he left behind an immense collection of unpublished work, work that no one has ever seen. It would be a shame to keep this work hidden away, because Jack wrote his work to be shared. To be heard. To be experienced.

To this end, we are endeavoring to bring Jack's previously unknown work to life, in a book called, My Friend Jack: A Collection of Unpublished Writings by Jack McCarthy. This book won't only contain his work; here, you will also find the community he created, in letters, stories, and essays penned by his biggest fans: other writers. Our hope is to create something that brings all of us closer together, and closer to him. We have no doubt that the world will benefit from more of Jack McCarthy's writing, but we need your help.

Remember when we said that when Jack wasn't listening, he was writing? Well, he was, and, luckily for us, he wrote a lot. But it's a lot of material to work through: there are at least seven three ring binders chock full of poetry, and at least a thousand digital files. We need funding to pay our editors to carefully read through all of the material and select the pieces, to cross check everything to ensure it hasn't been previously published in one of his other collections, to solicit the stories and essays from his comrades in the Spoken Word community, design the physical manuscript itself, and to solidify a plan to get this book published. It's a large task, but it's one we're ready for, and now we need your help. Consider it passing the tip jar for a man who always put others before him, who helped so many people through the darkest moments of their life. Jack McCarthy was there for us when we needed him. Let's let his voice ring out, again, in these beautiful and undiscovered poems. Let's keep his legacy alive.


Jack and I had a love affair that lasted 23 years. I was 45 and Jack was 50 when we met. He asked me to marry him after being together for only a month and a half. On our first date Jack and I had our first kiss and he gave me a copy of his play and a small collection of poems he had written. We never imagined what would be born from this marriage between a New Englander and a Californian, as he wrote in "Marriage in the Midst", "for us middle-agers, Sam Johnson once said, 'It's a triumph of hope over history.'

Well, on January 17, 2017 it will be 4 years since Jack passed away. At the time of Jack's death, he told me that he thought he would have had more time to publish his work. Two weeks before he died, he sent out a message on the internet to his fans to find a way to keep his poetry alive by finding a way to publish it. Because of a donor, I was able to create a website that could be used as a home base for his poetry friends to remember him and his poetry, and for new people to be introduced to his unconventional wisdom told in his never-to-forget poetic narratives.  Available on Amazon are: "Drunks and Other Poems of Recovery" (2013), "What I Saw" (2012), "Say Goodnight, Grace Notes (2003), and the CD "By Gift Unearned" (2008). 

At this time Dartmouth College is accepting Jack's poetry into the Dartmouth Archives. It's time to publish new books and I need to reach out to the poetry community for help in fund raising. I have selected Jessica Lohafer to be the editor and she now has a copy of Jack's original manuscripts. Jack was a prolific writer and if he had lived another 10 years, there would have been many publications. Please help if you can to contribute to this journey. Jack's friends, family and all those who love and admire his work will be forever grateful for the opportunity to keep his work alive.

Visit Jack's Website


  • Amanda Bettis
    • $25 
    • 7 yrs

Organizer and beneficiary

Jodie Knowles
Seattle, WA
Jodie Knowles

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