Diane Di Prima’s birthday

Dianne Di Prima, Boulder Colorado, July 1987. Photo. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate. licensing via Corbis

Poet, priestess, teacher, unrepentant activist and role-model, one of the key figures of the original “Beats” (and one of the few women in that confessedly overly white male circle), Diane di Prima, the remarkable Diane di Prima, is 77 years old today. Happy Birthday Diane!

One place we can immediately direct you to is the Fora tv recording of her October 2010 reading in New York City, at the CUNY Graduate Center (this, on the occasion of the publication of two new pamphlets by her – “R.D’s H.D.” (Robert Duncan’s H.D.) and “The Mysteries of Vision – Some Notes on H.D.”, both, part of “Lost and Found – The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative” – More information on all that can be found here).

Her March 2008 reading for the University of California (Berkeley)’s “Lunch Poems” series (with an introduction by Robert Hass – we’ve mentioned this series before – can be accessed here.

A quite remarkable video from the Free University of San Francisco, has her reading from the works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, “and from her own notes on art, poetry and life”. That can be accessed here.

Somewhat earlier, for the visual record, don’t miss her reading of “An April Fool Birthday Poem For Grandpa” (from Costanzo Allione’s 1978 film, Fried Shoes, Cooked Diamonds)

Additional great video of her reading is available here and here.

In 2009, she was honored (by Mayor Gavin Newsom) with the position of (5th) Poet Laureate of the City of San Francisco. A full record (you might want to skip all the introductory speeches and go right to Diane’s acceptance speech) is available here.

Turning to the audio-record, first off, here’s a recording from March 1969 (and used by John Giorno on his inaugural Dial-a-Poem Poets record, significantly following Allen’s Western Illinois University Vajra chant) – four representative “Revolutionary Letters” (numbers #7, #13, #16, and #49).

Revolutionary Letters, one of DiPrima’s two great on-going sequences. Here‘s some representative texts (#1, #40, and #51) – and #4. – and one more recent

(Revolutionary Letter #49, appears, alongside selections from her other great sequence, Loba, (alongside much else), in this reading, from 1973, preserved by Bard College
(notes on that reading are here).

A year later, she was recorded reading with Allen and Anne Waldman at Naropa. That reading can be accessed here (once again, sizeable sections of Loba).

Here‘s Dale Smith’s sharp take on Loba. Here‘s another response to the book.

Here’s more Diane at NAROPA – 1976, a class given on Ezra Pound, a 1982 writing workshop, a 1987 reading (appearing with Art Lande and introduced by Anne Waldman)

Illuminating interviews. The most recent, in 2010, in Verbicide. David Hadbawnik’s 2001 Jacket interview is essential reading – As is Joseph Matheny’s 1993 interview

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the wonderful Recollections of My Life As A Woman (the New York Years), Diane’s memoirs. Eagerly awaiting the follow-up volume.

Floating Bear – A Floating Bear Archive (a comprehensive display of Floating Bear covers) may be viewed here.

Tomorrow, The Poetry Deal, Melanie La Rosa’s recently-completed film on Diane, plays at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York (with readings by Barbara Henning and David Henderson).
In San Francisco, Diane herself and Michael McClure read at the Mythos Fine Art Gallery in a “Fly-By From The Realms of Burning Gold”.

Somewhat arbitrarily, as a send-off, we leave you with the Fuck You John Calvin broadside!

Happy Birthday, Diane. Long may you inspire!


  1. Paterson Literary Review # 39 (2011-2012), ed. Maria Mazziotti Gillan, features an extensive "Spotlight on Diane di Prima" section reviewing her life, career, and significance as a writer and cultural figure.

    David Cope

  2. Happy Birthday, Diane. You continue to be an inspiration. Have a great trip around the sun!

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