Library Journal "But when yr eyes shoot sparks & you say/ "Choose between me & it." "It" has always gone." Di Prima (Revolutionary Letters) sealed the deal with poetry at age 14. Collected here are poems that span four decades and speak to the poet's allegiance to her city and her community; lives lost to the 1990s AIDS epidemic; politics; love; motherhood; "a state of mind." In 1968, the Beat performer, human rights activist, and poet laureate of San Francisco from 2009 to 2011, left her native New York and moved permanently to the Bay Area. She would become a revolutionary voice of the people; a self-proclaimed servant of the poem. These mostly spare and lyrical poems invite the reader to "Escape from dry New College lecture" ("Gracias"), give pause to "Memorial Day, 2003," and imagine alternative approaches to "Haiti, Chile, Tibet." We get close to the author's "Acts of Imagination" and feel that poetry is as she says it can bring joy, cause grief, is song, riddle, dance, is dream and dreamer intertwined, is remaking language in the act of being writ, is so many parts, it's indeed a lot to wrap our minds around. VERDICT Di Prima is true to her first love, the Muse "which one of us is it dances?/ and which is the quasar?" The poems, while timeless, belong to a distinct period and place; they wish to celebrate the risks involved in being committed to one's dreams and inspire the imagination. A legendary voice to be appreciated by all readers of poetry. [For more on di Prima's life and career, see The Poetry Deal, a film with Diane di Prima (2011) by Melanie La Rosa, LJ 11/15/12. Ed.] Annalisa Pesek, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Legendary feminist Beat poet di Prima (Pieces of a Song) delivers her first collection in more than two decades. Recounting a life in poetry, her commitment to progressive thought and action, and a half-century of Bay Area culture, crises, and change, di Prima writes at the top of her game in a city where, "dig it, City Lights still here, like some old lighthouse/ though all the rest is gone." Poems in her plainspoken, arrow-true style are bracketed by the acceptance address she delivered when named San Francisco poet laureate in 2009. "I would have to say thank you to all sentient beings," di Prima declared, and through this volume, her heartrending love of the Earth, the mind, and art is on stunning display: "Poetry can bring joy, it can ease grief... Poetry is our heart's cry and our heart's ease." She mixes observations on the state of the nation with history ("Remember Sacco & Vanzetti/ Remember Haymarket/ Remember John Brown/ Remember the slave revolts/ Remember Malcolm") and personal narrative. Di Prima recalls the time an institutionalized Ezra Pound told her that "poets have to eat"; rarely has a poet left so much bread on the table for future poets. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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