Regarding Diane Di Prima
Ammiel Alcalay writes:
“Along with Sheppard Powell, Diane’s husband and life partner, and Sara Larsen, poet and long-time assistant to Diane, I have been appointed a co-executor of her estate… there are already many projects underway. These include translations into Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Turkish, with more on the way. A new edition of Revolutionary Letters, along with the long anticipated Spring & Autumn Annals, written in 1964 but never published [Editorial note –both books announced here, but delayed due to the pandemic] will be out from City Lights this Fall. We are also eager to put together a book of her poetics, drawing from many of the texts we published at Lost & Found.“
Diane continued writing to the very last. For several years she had been inspired by visitations from Sappho, prompted by all the white space left in the edition of Anne Carson’s translation, a conveyance she converted into notebooks for an ongoing series of poems filling many copies of that book.
But over the final six or so months of her life, (she) began a new series called “The Goodbyes.” As Sheppard put it, she “felt it was important—particularly as a Buddhist—to make her feelings clear before continuing on her journey”. In lieu of a more formal memorial, we give you these three “Goodbyes,” two of them to herself, and one addressed to me and our common endeavor:
5/9/20 – “in the golden light/of the night sky/I sing to the black stars”
6/3/20 -“pain/ told her/when to quit”
6/5/20 “wild-haired/ siddha/ lost & found”
Amiri Baraka, (Diane’s some-time partner, in his earlier incarnation as Leroi Jones, and co-editor with her of the legendary poetry newsletter, The Floating Bear) is seen here in archival footage (from New York’s Knitting Factory (1989) and the St. Marks Poetry Project (1990)). Poet and cultural critic Kofi Natambu is also featured. Video courtesy the remarkable archives of videographer, Mitch Corber, and his Poetry Thin Air
William S Burroughs – if you read Spanish, don’t miss Enrique Zamorano – “William Burroughs – El profeta más radical que definió nuestro mundo actual” (William Burroughs -The most radical prophet who defined our world today) – Burroughs’ haunting prescience
and also in Spanish, Eliza Salzman – “Día del amigo: Beatniks, cóctel de Beat y Sputnik” (Friends Day – Beatniks, Beat and Sputnik Cocktail), including her translation of Gregory Corso‘s poem from Elegiac Feelings American – “Friend”
Concluding, as we have of late, with another cut from the essential Fall of America tribute compilation – “Pain On All Fronts” (Death on All Fronts) – sung and interpreted in Korean by Korean-born artist, Lang Lee
“Death on All Fronts – “The Planet Is Finished”” – A new moon looks down on our sick sweet planet/Orion’s chased the Immovable Bear halfway across the sky/from winter to winter. I wake, earlier in bed, fly corpses/cover gas lit sheets, my head aches, left temple/brain fibre throbbing for Death I Created on all Fronts./Poisoned rats in the Chickenhouse and myriad lice/ Sprayed with white arsenics filtering to the brook, City Cockroaches/stomped on Country kitchen floors. No babies for me.Cut earth boys & girl hordes by half & breathe free/say Revolutionary expert Computers:Half the blue globe’s germ population’s more than enough,/keep the cloudy lung from stinking pneumonia./I called in Exterminator Who soaked the Wall floor with bed-bug death-oil: Who’ll soak my brain with death-oil?/I wake before dawn, dreading my wooden possessions,/my gnostic books, my loud mouth, old loves silent, charms turned to image money, my body sexless fat, Father dying,/Earth Cities poisoned at war, art hopeless—/Mind fragmented—and still abstract—Pain in left temple living death—” (notes written by Allen, Cherry Valley, September 26, 1969)
Interesting indeed. Check it out. In fact, check out (and purchase) the whole extraordinary CD!