I'm reading Diane di Prima's "Revolutionary Letters" this morning. The great Beat poet died this weekend. I haven't heard many details yet - the news hit social media late last night - but since this is the morning of October 26 2020 here in USA where our Supreme Court is being stolen by right-wing extremists and our society appears to be collapsing under the weight of our so-called government's greed and corruption, there's no doubt the poet herself would still be in a revolutionary frame of mind this morning. Here are a few quotes from her stirring and important book Revolutionary Letters.
This is a poetry book that evolved for decades, like Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass". The book was born during the heavy years 1968 to 1971, when USA searched its soul to discover the truth its government could not accept: the Vietnam War was disastrously immoral and had to be stopped. These were the years after Martin Luther King was gunned down in Memphis, and as a pacifist today I can only bristle at the intimations of continuing violence in this book. Diane di Prima was trying to figure out what to do about all the guns in her country, back then, and we are still trying to figure it out today. She believed in healthy tribes, in peaceful anarchic coexistence, in the power of human understanding and joyful, loving communal effort to solve serious problems. These poems are written from the inside of an exploding planetary crisis, and they speak of harsh reckonings, intolerable realities and impossible choices. On a practical plane, these poems are simply helpful notes for activists. I think they speak to us today.