Diane Di Prima - Biography - Involvement With The Beats

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. 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.

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