RECOLLECTIONS OF MY LIFE AS A WOMAN: The New York Years

Diane di Prima, Author
Diane di Prima, Author . Viking $29.95 (496p) ISBN 978-0-670-85166-9
Reviewed on: 05/07/2001
Release date: 04/01/2001
Paperback - 424 pages - 978-0-14-023158-8
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Di Prima, perhaps the best known and certainly among the most talented of the beat generation poets, captures the heady atmosphere of New York's avant-garde community in the 1950s and 1960s, while rendering her own life with intimacy and grace. Born in Brooklyn in the mid-1930s, she remembers her Italian immigrant grandmother with great affection. But she describes frightening incidents from her earliest childhood: her father, a sullen, brooding, man, once beat her until her nose bled; her relationship with her mother was equally abusive. In elementary school, di Prima was bullied relentlessly; it was not until she entered Hunter High School for gifted students that she found a circle of friends; there, reading the great poets, she resolved to become a poet herself. Leaving Swarthmore College after what she perceived as unproductive years, di Prima returned to New York City, and embarked on an independent life as a writer. She describes her bohemian lifestyle—love affairs with men and women, experiments with drugs—with honesty and wit. Friend to many of the best known figures of the beat world, including Allen Ginsberg, Audre Lorde and LeRoi Jones, di Prima found fulfillment in her work as an editor and poet, and as a single mother. She tells her story well, skillfully interweaving events with lyrical commentary on her inner life. (Apr.)

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