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Conversations with Diane di Prima

Conversations with Diane di Prima

Edited by David Stephen Calonne
Series: Literary Conversations Series
Hardcover : 9781496839664, 258 pages, June 2022
Paperback : 9781496839671, 258 pages, June 2022
Expected to ship: 2022-06-15
Expected to ship: 2022-06-15

Collected interviews with the feminist Beat poet and cofounder of the Poets Press, known for her blended use of political and spiritual subject matter

Description

Diane di Prima (1934–2020) was one of the most important American poets of the twentieth century, and her career is distinguished by strong contributions to both literature and social justice. Di Prima and LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) edited The Floating Bear (1962–69), one of the most significant underground publications of the sixties. Di Prima’s poetry and prose chronicle her opposition to the Vietnam War; her advocacy of the rights of Blacks, Native Americans, and the LGBTQ community; her concern about environmental issues; and her commitment to creating a world free of exploitation and poverty. In addition, di Prima is significant due to her challenges to the roles that American women were expected to play in society. Her Memoirs of a Beatnik was a sensation, and she talks about its lasting impact as well.

Conversations with Diane di Prima presents twenty interviews ranging from 1972 to 2010 that chart di Prima’s intellectual, spiritual, and political evolution. From her adolescence, di Prima was fascinated by occult, esoteric, and magical philosophies. In these interviews readers can see the ways these concepts influenced both her personal life and her poetry and prose. We are able to view di Prima’s life course from her year at Swarthmore College; her move back to New York and then to San Francisco; her studies of Zen Buddhism; her fascination with the I Ching, Paracelsus, John Dee, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, alchemy, Tarot, and Kabbalah; and her later engagement with Tibetan Buddhism and work with Chogyam Trungpa. Another particularly interesting aspect of the book is the inclusion of interviews that explore di Prima’s career as an independent publisher—she founded Poets Press in New York and Eidolon Editions in California—and her commitment to promoting writers such as Audre Lorde. Taken together, these interviews reveal di Prima as both a writer of genius and an intensely honest, direct, passionate, and committed advocate of a revolution in consciousness.