I'm passing on the information in the hope that some of you will join in donating for Diane's medical bills.
Earlier this month, my spirit animal and close family friend poet Michael McClure sent me an email regarding San Francisco Poet Laureate Diane Di Prima who is now 78 years old. Michael knows that Diane has had a particularly important impact on my life. Her memoir, Recollections of My Life as a Woman changed me on a fundamental level. Her very existence, even prior to reading her memoir, shaped the way I viewed myself as an emerging woman and as a writer. Upon reading Recollections, I knew I could never go back to the way I viewed myself again. I could not NOT define myself as, above all things, a poet and a feminist, titles I had always struggled with.
Michael McClure wrote me:
Diane is suffering with several painful and even life-threatening illnesses, including removal of all teeth, arthritis from her earlier back operation, extreme problems with glaucoma and a needed operation; but that’s just the top of the list. Despite all, she is in unexpectedly fine spirits. If you know of any way to help her, she would appreciate it and I would also.
Di Prima was born in Brooklyn. She attended Hunter College High School and Swarthmore College before dropping out to be a poet in Manhattan. Her official online biography notes that she is "a second generation American of Italian descent" and that "Her maternal grandfather, Domenico Mallozzi, was an active anarchist, and associate of Carlo Tresca and Emma Goldman." She began writing as a child and by the age of 19 was corresponding with Ezra Pound and Kenneth Patchen. Her first book of poetry, This Kind of Bird Flies Backward was published in 1958.