Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Diane Di Prima

Allen Ginsberg wrote about Diane 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.”

What could I possibly add?! All I can say is, read her poetry! There is some available at the Poetry Foundation online. Also I highly recommend reading the interview with Di Prima in Jacket, as well as the short post on the City Lights blog.

My response to Di Prima’s work today is directly linked to her poem “Backyard” which is included in the Anthology. A look back into childhood for her – for me…


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where angels stooped over music boxes brightly painted

their silver fingers in the metal spiel

playing card fans wafting Japanese moonlight and

each shadow a taxidermy crocodile

where phantom knights grazed their horses on the corner beneath the broken streetlight

I heard the nightingale in the deepest furrows of the record playing the Bolero thirty times or more

my porcelain friends with one ear on the creaky loft floor

a spider’s leg tapping trapping in the silken net a Persian rug cast

where chieftain hands folded sternly around a ship in a bottle

hollow haggard ocean caught in sun-faded shell

I threw the dice among the soft black soil of the herb garden

watercolours dripping from the cloth line blurry red and blue

where a white rabbit in a hole in a hole in a hole sitting waiting

skipping marching songs whistled all the way to the funny fully tiled room

I kept my breath under water breathing

where there were books

where there were books

(I was never a backyard child)

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