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Diane di Prima

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Diane di Prima

Diane di Prima
Diane di Prima, photo by Gloria Graham during the video taping of Add-Verse, 2004
Born (1934-08-06) August 6, 1934
Brooklyn, New York
Occupation Poet, Author, Artist
Language English
Nationality American
Education Hunter College High School
Alma mater Swarthmore College
Literary movement Beat movement
Notable awards
Years active 1968 (1968)-present[1]
Relatives Domenico Mallozzi (maternal grandfather)

Literature portal

Diane di Prima (born August 6, 1934) is an American poet and artist.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life 1.1
    • Involvement with the Beats 1.2
    • Career 1.3
    • Personal life 1.4
  • Bibliography 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Early life

Di Prima was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1934. She attended Hunter College High School and Swarthmore College before dropping out to be a poet in Manhattan. Her official online biography notes that she is "a second generation American of Italian descent" and that "Her maternal grandfather, Domenico Mallozzi, was an active anarchist, and associate of Carlo Tresca and Emma Goldman."[2] Di Prima began writing as a child and by the age of 19 was corresponding with Ezra Pound and Kenneth Patchen. Her first book of poetry, This Kind of Bird Flies Backward, was published in 1958 by Hettie and LeRoi Jones' Totem Press.

Involvement with the Beats

Di Prima spent the late 1950s and early 1960s in Manhattan, where she participated in the emerging Beat movement. She spent some time in California at Stinson Beach and Topanga Canyon, returned to New York City and eventually moved to San Francisco permanently. Di Prima was a bridge figure between the Beat movement and the later hippies, as well as between East Coast and West Coast artists. She edited The Floating Bear with Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and was co-founder of the New York Poets Theatre and founder of the Poets Press. On several occasions she faced charges of obscenity by the United States government due to her work with the New York Poets Theatre and the newspaper The Floating Bear. In 1961 she was actually arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for publishing two poems in The Floating Bear. According to di Prima, police persistently harassed her due to the nature of her poetry.[3] In 1966, she spent some time at Millbrook with Timothy Leary's psychedelic community and printed the first two editions of "Psychodelic Prayers" by Leary in Spring 1966. In 1969, she wrote a fictionalized, erotic account detailing her experience in the Beat movement titled Memoirs of a Beatnik. From 1974 to 1997, di Prima taught Poetry at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, of the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, sharing the program with fellow Beats Allen Ginsberg (Co-founder of the program), William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, and others. In 2001, she published Recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years.


In the late 1960s, she moved permanently to California, where she has lived ever since. Here, di Prima became involved with the

According to di Prima's official website, she also teaches workshops, with her most popular being one where she teaches attendees how to combine paintings or photographs with the printed word. Di Prima has several poetic works that are in progress, including Last Gasp Press's expanded edition of Revolutionary Letters, which includes over 20 new poems. According to the Poetry Foundation, she has "taught at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute, the California College of Arts and Crafts, and in the Masters-in-Poetics program at the New College of California." Di Prima's works are held at "the University of Louisville, Indiana University, Southern Illinois University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s libraries." [6] Her poetry often presents a struggle with the social and political disturbances that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. Although many of her poems did have a social or political slant, much of her writing also involved issues with personal relationships and her life. A majority of her newest material has female paradigms and religious practice, specifically Eastern philosophies.[7]

Personal life

Di Prima is the mother of five children: Jeanne di Prima, Dominique di Prima, Alex Marlowe, Tara Marlowe, and Rudi di Prima. She was married to Alan Marlowe in 1962 (divorced 1969) and in 1972 to Grant Fisher (divorced 1975.) [8]


  • This Kind of Bird Flies Backward, Totem Press, New York, 1958
  • Dinners and Nightmares (short stories), Corinth Books, 1961 (reissued Last Gasp, 1998)
  • Seven Love Poems from the Middle Latin (translations), The Poets Press, 1965
  • Poems for Freddie, 1966
  • War Poems (editor), Poets Press, New York, 1968
  • Memoirs of a Beatnik, Olympia Press, 1969 (reissued with new afterword, Last Gasp, 1988)
  • The Book of Hours, 1970
  • "The Bell tower", No Mountains Poetry Project, Evanston, Il, 1976
  • Selected Poems: 1956-1975, North Atlantic Books, Plainfield, 1975
  • Loba, Part II, Eidolon Editions, Point Reyes, 1976
  • Selected Poems: 1956-1976, North Atlantic Books, 1977
  • Loba, Parts 1-8, 1978
  • Revolutionary Letters, City Lights, 1971
  • Pieces of a Song: Selected Poems, City Lights, 1990
  • Recollections of My Life as a Woman The New York Years, Viking Press, NY, 2001
  • The Poetry Deal, City Lights, 2014


  1. ^ Raskin, Jonah (7 November 2014). "Interview with poet Diane di Prima". SF Gate (Hearst Communications, Inc.). Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  2. ^ "BIOGRAPHY OF DIANE DI PRIMA". Diane di Prima. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  3. ^ Diane Di Prima Papers, Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.
  4. ^ "Time Has Come, The .... We Will Refuse to Pay Our Federal Income Taxes Voluntarily".
  5. ^ .SFGate"The people’s poet", City Insider,
  6. ^ Diane di Prima biography at Poetry Foundation.
  7. ^ "Diane di Prima", The Beat Page.
  8. ^ Diane di Prima Papers, University of Louisville Archives & Special Collections.


  • Charters, Ann (ed.). The Portable Beat Reader. New York: Penguin Books, 1992. ISBN 0-670-83885-3 (hc); ISBN 0-14-015102-8 (pbk)
  • di Prima, Diane, and Jones, LeRoi [Imanu Amiri Baraka], eds. The Floating Bear, a newsletter: Numbers 1-37, 1961-1969. Introduction and notes adapted from interviews with Diane di Prima. La Jolla, California: Laurence McGilvery, 1973. ISBN 0-910938-54-7} (library binding)
  • di Prima, Diane. Recollections Of My Life As A Woman. Viking USA (2001). ISBN 0-670-85166-3

External links

  • archived version of Diane di Prima Official Website
  • Works by or about Diane di Prima in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
  • Di Prima Papers at University of Louisville
  • Diane Di Prima Papers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Interview with Diana Di Prima on Modern Paganism from RE/Search
  • "Add-Verse" a poetry-photo-video project di Prima participated in
  • 1992 Interview with di Prima
  • 2002 Interview with di Prima
  • 2010 Interview with di Prima
  • The Poetry Deal: a film with Diane di Prima — official site
  • The Poetry Deal: A Film with Diane di Prima at Women Make Movies
  • by Diane di PrimaThe Poetry Deal at City Lights Publishers
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