Editor: Mary Catherine Kinniburgh

68 pp. soft-bound, stapled

Poet Mary Norbert Korte attended the Berkeley Poetry Conference in 1965, which marked a “conversion” of sorts: away from her life as a nun in the Dominican Catholic Sisterhood of San Rafael, and towards a life of poetry and activism in the Bay Area. After lively dialogue with Jack Spicer, she began corresponding with other poets including Diane di Prima, Lew Welch, and Michael McClure, often sharing poetry in secret. In January 1967, McClure received a package; Korte wrote a series of poems in response to his work, Ghost Tantras, inscribing them directly on the pages of her copy. The responses, published here for the first time, reveal a poetics steeped in mysticism and lyricism, written during a time in which Korte’s understanding of religious love was increasingly affected by her participation in environmental and antiwar activism.

Author Biography:

Mary Norbert Korte is a poet, environmental activist, and teacher. She joined the Dominican Catholic Sisterhood in San Rafael, California, in 1951 at the age of 17, as a way to “drop out” of mainstream society. During this period, she earned BA and MA degrees in Latin, translating Virgil’s Georgics into iambic pentameter and studying classical texts and formal poetry. She formally left the Dominican order in 1968, and continued to publish poetry, participate in anti-war activism, and spearhead environmental protection projects—including the preservation of over 200 acres of old growth redwoods in Irmulco, where she moved in the 1970s. There, she also served as Northern California Coordinator for Poets in the Schools, and taught in Coyote Valley’s reservation for the Pomo people and at Mendocino Community College. She still lives in a cabin she built herself, and continues to write nearly every day.

Photo of Jack Spicer and Mary Norbert Korte at the 1965 Berkeley Poetry Conference, by Tové Neville, with permission of The Estate of Jack Spicer


Editor Biography:

Mary Catherine Kinniburgh received her PhD in English from The Graduate Center, CUNY, where she completed a dissertation on libraries created by postwar American poets. She is a co-editor of Gregory Corso: Naropa Lectures 1981 from Lost & Found, and three-time Diane di Prima Fellowship recipient. She has taught at Brooklyn College, served as Digital Fellow at CUNY, and worked as a literary manuscripts specialist and curatorial associate at The New York Public Library. She now works with Granary Books in New York City.



Collected in: Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative

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