Dead [Women] Poets Society Blog

Geneviève L. Walsh resurrects Diane di Prima

On 31 August 2021, Geneviève L. Walsh resurrected US Beat poet Diane di Prima alongside Charlotte Wetton, who communed with Irish poet Ellen Taylor, at an online event [Not] in Halifax. You can watch the whole event back here, and read Geneviève's resurrection and poems in response to di Prima below.

I’ll be resurrecting the feminist, activist, rabble-rousing Beat poet Diane di Prima.

She’d probably think it was too soon to resurrect her as she only died last year. “I’m 87, Gen, let me have a rest”. However, one thing I’ve taken away from her life and work is the notion that the best poets cause a lot of inconvenience.

Just for a little background: Diane di Prima was born in 1934 in Brooklyn, New York. After two years at college she moved to Greenwich Village, at the heart of the Beat movement, where she gained friendships and professional alliances with the prominent Beat poets Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Denise Levertov.

The Beat movement was, essentially, born out of the ashes of World War II, and the poets within this movement were exploring the landscape everyone had been left with. They questioned everything that the pre- and mid-war West had become complacent about and comfortable with, be it politics, culture, sexuality, religion, class, or just the day-to-day attitude of everyone who survived that worldwide tragedy. They were explicit, forthright and raw in their subject matter, and their approach to form was one that stepped on conventional approaches to rhyme and metre, in favour of a stream-of-consciousness approach.