Diane di Prima: The Olson Memorial Lecture
eds. Ana Božičević & Ammiel Alcalay
"The Olson di Prima evokes is sighted with truth-seeking, a strength that is a vulnerability (as in the episode of the Black Mountain glass pane), and the conscience of a continent (as when the child of immigrants looks into the pewter-filled window of history). The thirst for such con(text)science, a sense of the continent, cannot be overestimated in the time we now find ourselves, when to know and hold our ground, and the history of the country we inherit, is increasingly becoming a matter of life and death in the 'war against the imagination.' The fresh materiality of 'we,' 'our,' and 'ground' manifest in these conversations, mouthed so wholly away from a political mainstream, is their present to the present." - from Ana Božičević's Introduction
Read an interview with Ammiel Alcalay and Ana Božičević on The Volta.
Ana Božičević is the author of poetry books Stars of the Night Commute (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2009) and Rise in the Fall (Birds LLC, 2012). She is the co-editor of The Day Lady Gaga Died: an Anthology of NYC Poetry of the 21st Century (in Serbian), and journals esque and the PEN Poetry Series. Her translations of Zvonko Karanović recently received a PEN American Center/NYSCA grant. She works and studies English literature at The Graduate Center, CUNY, where she helps run the Annual Chapbook Festival, and co-chairs the Transculturations Seminar.
Ammiel Alcalay is a poet, translator, critic, scholar and activist, he teaches at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of numerous books, including Scrapmetal and After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture. Some of his translations include Sarajevo Blues and Nine Alexandrias. Islanders, a novel, came out in 2010. His new selection of poetry, neither wit nor gold, was published by Ugly Duckling Presse in 2011. A 10th anniversary reprint of from the warring factions and a new book of essays, a little history, are due out from re:public / UpSet in Fall, 2012. He is the founding editor of Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative, a series of student and guest edited archival texts emerging from the New American Poetry.
Diane di Prima was born in Brooklyn, New York. She attended Swarthmore College for two years before moving to Greenwich Village in Manhattan and becoming a writer in the emerging Beat movement. There, she developed friendships with poets Amiri Baraka, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Frank O’Hara, and Audre Lorde. After joining Timothy Leary’s intentional community in upstate New York, she moved to San Francisco in 1968.
Di Prima has published more than 40 books. Her poetry collections include This Kind of Bird Flies Backwards (1958), the long poem Loba (1978, expanded 1998), and Pieces of a Song: Selected Poems (2001). She is also the author of the short story collection Dinners and Nightmares (1960), the semi-autobiographical Memoirs of a Beatnik (1968), and the memoir Recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years (2001).
With Amiri Baraka, she co-edited the literary magazine The Floating Bear from 1961 to 1969. She co-founded the Poets Press and the New York Poets Theatre and founded Eidolon Editions and the Poets Institute. A follower of Buddhism, she also co-founded the San Francisco Institute of Magical and Healing Arts.
Di Prima was named Poet Laureate of San Francisco in 2009.