HISTORY OF DIANE DI PRIMA
Feminist Beat poet Diane di Prima was born in Brooklyn, New York. She attended Swarthmore College for two years before moving to Greenwich Village in Manhattan and becoming a writer in the emerging Beat movement. There, she developed friendships with poets Amiri Bakaka, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Frank O’Hara. After joining Timothy Leary’s intentional community in upstate New York, she moved to San Francisco in 1968.
DESCRIPTION OF DI PRIMA’S STYLE
Di Prima’s poetry mixes stream-of-consciousness with attention to form and joins politics to spiritual practice. In an interview with Jacket magazine, di Prima spoke about her life as a writer, a mother, and an activist. “I wanted everything—very earnestly and totally—I wanted to have every experience I could have, I wanted everything that was possible to a person in a female body, and that meant that I wanted to be mother.… So my feeling was, ‘Well’—as I had many times had the feeling—‘Well, nobody’s done it quite this way before but fuck it, that’s what I’m doing, I’m going to risk it.’”
Di Prima has published more than 40 books. Her poetry collections include This Kind of Bird Flies Backwards (1958), the long poem Loba (1978, expanded 1998), andPieces of a Song: Selected Poems (2001). She is also the author of the short story collection Dinners and Nightmares (1960), the semi-autobiographical Memoirs of a Beatnik (1968), and the memoir Recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years (2001).
SOME BOOKS BY DI PRIMA
A TASTE OF DI PRIMA POETRY
“Revolutionary Letter #60″
Look to the cities, see how ‘urban renewal”
tears out the slums from the heart of town
forces expendable poor to the edges, to some
remote & indefensible piece of ground:
Hunter’s Point, Lower East Side, Columbia Point
out of sight, out of mind, & when bread riots come
(conjured by cutting welfare, raising prices)
the man won’t hesitate to raze those ghettos
& few will see, & fewer will object.
QUOTE ABOUT DI PRIMA
Allen Ginsberg said of di Prima,
“Diane di Prima, revolutionary activist of the 1960s Beat literary renaissance, heroic in life and poetics: a learned humorous bohemian, classically educated and twentieth-century radical, her writing, informed by Buddhist equanimity, is exemplary in Imagist, political, and mystical modes. A great woman poet in second half of American century, she broke barriers of race-class identity, delivered a major body of verse brilliant in its particularity.”
Di Prima was named Poet Laureate of San Francisco in 2009.