Diane Di Prima’s 80th Birthday

Diane Di Prima with poet Ted Joans, at The Poetry Project, St Mark’s Church, New York City, 1994 – Photograph by Allen Ginsberg c. Allen Ginsberg Estate

Diane di Prima and Allen Ginsberg

The great poet-activist-wise-woman-scholar, Diane Di Prima is 80 years old today!
Happy Birthday Diane!

She, in the past year, has been teaching a course (at the Bay Area Public School) – “The Dream of Pre-History”
From her catalog note: “This class explores the beginnings of what we call “human” – the fall of Neanderthal and the rise of Cro-Magnon culture – the beginnings, dominance, and eclipse of matriarchy – the double invasions of patriarchy and oligarchy – and the persistent dream of a non-hierarchical society”

“The dream of a non-hierarchical society” – a beautiful and pure dream, these past four-score years, (despite the increasing brutality of “patriarchy and oligarchy”), a dream she has unflinchingly and heroically pursued – and continues to pursue

Her Recollections of My Life As A Woman is required reading.

Her poetry, for that matter, is (also) required reading

For earlier Diane Di Prima postings on The Allen Ginsberg Project, see our comprehensive posting – here 

and a reading (from 1974, with Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman) –  here

and (in Golden Gate Park)  with Michael McClure 

We’ll conclude with her elegy for fellow cultural warrior, Amiri Baraka, published in the San Francisco Chronicle, on the occasion of his passing, last February

For Amiri Baraka

don’ matter was it
yr left foot went bad
or yr right
don’ matter yr lungs
or yr heart
don’ matter if that spot
on yr liver was
or what’s been wrong
so long
w/yr kidneys
don’t matter
or herbs
or acupuncture
or why you didn’t
to those appointments
don’t matter how much you drank
if you drank
don’t matter you did or you didn’t
take drugs
meaning meds
or take drugs
meaning drugs
what matters now
what matters &
what’s gonna matter
a hundred
a thousand years
what matters when
what we wrote
what we thought
is lost
(& don’t kid yourself,
it’s all of it
gonna be lost)
what matters:
every place
you read
every line
you wrote
every dog-eared book
or pamphlet
on somebody’s shelf
every skinny hopeful kid
you grinned that grin at
while they said
they thought they could write
they thought they could fight
they knew for sure
they could change the world
every human dream
you heard
or inspired
after the book-signing
after the reading
after one more
faculty dinner
after that god-awful flight
& the drive to the school
what matters:
the memory
of the poem
in thousands of minds
that quantum
of energy
passed over
all the way over
to the other
to thousands
of others
what matters
what matters
what matters
the poem
taking root in
of minds…

“Revolution/what matters/Revelation/what matters”..

Happy Birthday, Diane!

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