Diane di Prima was born in Brooklyn and attended 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." Di Prima began writing as a child and by the age of nineteen was corresponding with Ezra Pound and Kenneth Patchen. Her first book of poetry, This Kind of Bird Flies Backwards was published in 1958 by Hettie and LeRoi Jones' Totem Press.
Di Prima spent the late 1950s and early 1960s in Manhattan, where she participated in the emerging Beat movement. She spent some time in California at Stinson Beach and Topanga Canyon, returned to New York City and eventually moved to San Francisco permanently. Di Prima was a bridge figure between the Beat movement and the later Hippies as well as between east coat and west coast artists. She edited The Floating Bear with Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and was co-founder of the New York Poets Theatre and founder of the Poets Press. In 1966, she spent some time at Millbrook with Timothy Leary’s psychedelic community. In 1969, she wrote a novel describing her experience of the Beat movement titled Memoirs of a Beatnik. In 2001 she published Recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years. Diane di Prima is the mother of five.
In the early 1970s, she moved to California, where she has lived ever since. Here, she became involved with the Diggers and studied Buddhism, Sanskrit, Gnosticism and alchemy. She also published her major work, the long poem Loba in 1978, with an enlarged edition in 1998. She teaches and continues writing, having published thirty-five books of poetry. Her selected poems, Pieces of a Song was published in 1990 and a memoir, Recollections of My Life as a Woman, in 2001.
- This Kind of Bird Flies Backward, Totem Press, New York, 1958
- Dinners and Nightmares (short stories), Last Gasp, 1961
- Poems for Freddie, 1966
- War Poems (editor), Poets Press, New York, 1968
- Memoirs of a Beatnik, Olympia Press, 1969
- The Book of Hours, 1970
- Selected Poems: 1956-1975, North Atlantic Books, Plainfield, 1975
- Loba, Part II, Eidolon Editions, Point Reyes, 1976
- Selected Poems: 1956-1976, North Atlantic Books, 1977
- Loba, Parts 1-8, 1978
- Revolutionary Letters, City Lights, 1981
- Pieces of a Song: Selected Poems, City Lights, 1990
- Recollections of My Life as a Woman The New York Years, Viking Press, NY, 2001
- Charters, Ann (ed.). The Portable Beat Reader. Penguin Books. New York. 1992. ISBN 0-670-83885-3 (hc); ISBN 0-14-015102-8 (pbk)
- di Prima, Diane, and Jones, LeRoi [Imanu Amiri Baraka], eds. The Floating Bear, a newsletter: Numbers 1-37, 1961-1969. Introduction and notes adapted from interviews with Diane di Prima. La Jolla, California: Laurence McGilvery, 1973. ISBN 0910938547} (library binding)
- Diane Di Prima.com
- On Diane Di Prima’s Rant
- Blue Neon Alley - Diane di Prima directory
- Women of the Beat Biography for Diane Di Prima
- Di Prima Papers at University of Louisville
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