I’m planning to teach Diane Di Prima’s Revolutionary Letters (or excerpts therefrom, not the book in its entirety) in my course this fall. The work is a serial poem begun by Di Prima in 1968. It was published as part of the famed Pocket Poets Series from City Lights Books — the same series that released the original iconic edition of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems a decade earlier. Di Prima lived for much of 1966 with Timothy Leary’s crew in upstate New York on the Hitchcock estate in Millbrook.
Face pained joyous, I put some flowers in my hair and go to San Francisco. San Francisco, here I come, a copy of Charles Perry’s The Haight-Ashbury: A History splayed out in my lap. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” leads me back to Sonic Youth’s Bad Moon Rising, an album I’ve only just now learned to appreciate, as it was always in the past, in the shadow, way out in the yonder. As a sculpture I sit beside in Golden Gate Park suggests, we could be like cherubs playing amid a harmless, loving nature, even here in our urban surround. But then I get turned away from the Academy of Science and the Japanese Tea Garden for lack of money. In response, I imagine turning myself on Halloween into Shelley’s “The Masque of Anarchy.” After the park, Sarah and I catch Juliana Spahr at City Lights Books, reading from a new work called Du Bois’s Telegram. During the talk, she mentions a piece by George Mason Murray of the Black Panthers, written in the midst of the San Francisco State Strike, called “For a Revolutionary Culture.”