Her poems age well. I’d be surprised if her poetry
didn’t last longer than the poetry of many of the Beats.
Diane di Prima died several days ago in San Francisco at age 86. The obituaries have poured in, paying tribute to a life devoted to writing—her own and others’. She was a poet, editor, publisher, memoirist, novelist and, not least, a social activist. I believe she will be remembered most for her poetry.
Holladay: Did you get to know Diane di Prima when you were editing Earthquake, your experimental literary magazine? Seems like what you were doing with Earthquake paralleled what she and LeRoi Jones were doing with The Floating Bear.
Herman: I’ve never met Diane di Prima. But even before I got to City Lights [in 1966], I was aware of Floating Bear. I first read it at the 8thStreet Bookshop in Greenwich Village, when I was clerking there. It’s flattering of you to make the comparison. But Floating Bear broke the ground and lasted for a decade, becoming as much of an avant-garde institution as any mimeo possibly could. Earthquake lasted only a couple of years.
Holladay: I’m also curious to know what you think of di Prima’s poetry.
Herman: What I like is its simplicity. I understand it. I like its rich feeling, which is straightforward and strong and not at all sentimental. Her poems age well. I’d be surprised if her poetry didn’t last longer than the poetry of many of the Beats.