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Diane Di Prima Biography

(1934– ), Kulchur, Floating Bear, This Kind of Bird Flies Backward, Dinners and Nightmares, Revolutionary Letters

American novelist, playwright, and poet, born in New York City, educated at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania. Di Prima's writings, particularly her verse, are frequently associated with both Beat and confessional modes in modern American poetry and her poetic forms echo those of Beat contemporaries such as Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. She was a contributing editor to Kulchur magazine in the early 1960s, a co-editor with LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) of the magazine Floating Bear, and from 1961 until 1965 was Director of the New York Poet's Theatre. Among her many volumes of verse are This Kind of Bird Flies Backward (1958), Dinners and Nightmares (1961), Revolutionary Letters (1969), Selected Poems, 1956–1975 (1975), Loba, Parts 1–8 (1978), Pieces of a Song: Selected Poems (1990), and Seminary Poems (1991). Zip Code (1993) is a volume of her collected plays, while Memoirs of a Beatnik (1969) is her most well-known novel. In a 1978 interview she spoke of the poet as ‘the first person to begin the shaping and visioning of the new forms and the new consciousness when no one else has begun to sense it…’ Di Prima has lived for many years in San Francisco and is one of the central figures in the city's vibrant poetic life. Her poem ‘Brass Furnace Going Out’, which describes her experience of undergoing an abortion, achieved some notoriety through its use by American anti-abortion groups, much to Di Prima's dismay.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Walter John De La Mare Biography to Hilda Doolittle Biography