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About this poet

A prominent figure in the beat poetry generation, Anne Waldman, was born in Millville, New Jersey, on April 2, 1945, and grew up on MacDougal Street in New York City. She received her BA from Bennington College in 1966. From 1966 until 1978 she ran the St. Mark's Poetry Project, reading with fellow poets such as Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. Immediately following her departure from St. Mark's, she and Ginsberg founded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

She has published over forty books of poetry, including Gossamurmur (Penguin, 2013); The Iovis Trilogy: Colors in the Mechanism of Concealment (Coffee House Press, 2011); Manatee/Humanity (Penguin, 2009); Structure of the World Compared to a Bubble (Penguin, 2004); In the Room of Never Grieve: New and Selected Poems, 1985–2003 (Coffee House Press, 2003); Dark Arcana / Afterimage or Glow (Heaven Bone Press, 2003), with photographs by Patti Smith; Vow to Poetry (Coffee House Press, 2001); Marriage: A Sentence (Penguin, 2000); Kill or Cure (Penguin, 1994); Iovis: All Is Full of Love (Coffee House Press, 1993); Helping the Dreamer: New and Selected Poems 1966–1988 (Coffee House Press, 1989); Fast Speaking Woman (City Lights Pocket Poets Series, 1974); and Baby Breakdown (Bobbs-Merrill, 1970). Her work can also be found in numerous films, videos, and sound recordings.

She is also editor of the anthologies The Beat Book (Shambhala, 1996) and The World Anthology: Poems From the St. Mark's Poetry Project (Bobbs-Merrill, 1969), and coeditor of Angel Hair Sleeps With A Boy In My Head (Granary Books, 2001) and Disembodied Poetics: Annals of the Jack Kerouac School (University of New Mexico Press, 1993). She has also co-translated Songs of The Sons & Daughters of Buddha (Shambhala, 1996), a book of traditional Buddhist scripture originally in Sanskrit and Prakrit, with Andrew Schelling, among others.

Waldman has received numerous awards and honors for her poetry, including the Dylan Thomas Memorial Award, the National Literary Anthology Award, the Shelley Memorial Award for poetry, and grants from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is a two-time winner of the International Poetry Championship Bout in Taos, New Mexico. She was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2011.

Currently Waldman is the director of the MFA Writing and Poetics program at the Naropa Institute. She divides her time between Boulder, Colorado, and Greenwich Village, New York City.


Selected Bibliography

Gossamurmur (Penguin, 2013)
The Iovis Trilogy: Colors in the Mechanism of Concealment (Coffee House Press, 2011)
Manatee/Humanity (Penguin, 2009)
Structure of the World Compared to a Bubble (Penguin, 2004)
In the Room of Never Grieve: New and Selected Poems, 1985–2003 (Coffee House Press, 2003)
Dark Arcana / Afterimage or Glow (Heaven Bone Press, 2003)
Vow to Poetry (Coffee House Press, 2001)
Marriage: A Sentence (Penguin, 2000)
Kill or Cure (Penguin, 1994)
Iovis: All Is Full of Love (Coffee House Press, 1993)
Helping the Dreamer: New and Selected Poems 1966–1988 (Coffee House Press, 1989)
Fast Speaking Woman (City Lights Pocket Poets Series, 1974)
Baby Breakdown (Bobbs-Merrill, 1970)


Multimedia

From the Image ArchiveAudio: Waldman reads "The Raven"

 

Fast Speaking Woman [excerpt]

Anne Waldman, 1945
woman never under your thumb, says
skull that was a head, says
bloodshot eyes, says

I’m the Kali woman the killer woman
women with salt on her tongue

fire that cleans
fire that catches
fire burns hotter as I go

woman traded her secrets never, says
woman reversed the poles, says
woman never left America to know this
but she did, says, she did leave

woman combs snakes out of her hair
woman combs demons out of her hair

woman lies down with the cobra
     then meditates under cobra canopy

woman had a bone in her throat, says
was it yours? says
she admits she has a taste for you, says
     she’s cannibal woman, Kali woman

woman’s tongue once split in ten directions
one: I’m a savage woman
two: I’m the rutting woman
three: I’m the fire dancer with coal-black feet
four: Im the old-time thinker
five: poseur woman
six: I’m the redacteur
seven: auteur
eight: I haunt you with my songs
nine: I was the nun
     now I am bound by desire again
ten: I’m the cittipatti woman
     the dancing-skull woman

mouth is moving, says
skull-mouth moving, says
says these things
says terrible things as I go

mouth is gaping
tongue is bleeding
everywhere suffering, as I go

I’m the celebrity woman
I’m the luminary woman
I’m the standout woman
I’m the braggart woman
I’m the shrew at the window woman
I’m the stigma woman
the beaten woman
the disgraced woman
hag woman
where will I go?

who will have me?

water clean me
water clean me, as I go

I’m the camouflaged woman
I’m the assuaged woman
I’m the ravenous woman
I’m the Kali Yuga woman
high-pitched woman
not a trifling woman
hissing woman

I’m the woman with the fangs
I’m the woman with the guns
I’m the woman with tomes
I’m the hook woman
I’m the stolen book woman

fire that burns as I go

woman was in the world was walking
woman was singing sounding the day away
sounds like a cranky old machine, someone said
(that someone was a mean man, mean child-man)
but she just ignored the cranky old machine part
& went on her way

woman took her haughty self out of the sky
she had a nose that tall
how tall?
that!
& stuck up it was
mincy mincy mincy mincy she cried
mincy mincy mincy 
she was burning all right
her house (the one she carried on her head) was afire

From Fast Speaking Woman. Copyright © 1975, 1996 by Anne Waldman. Reprinted by permission of City Lights Books.

From Fast Speaking Woman. Copyright © 1975, 1996 by Anne Waldman. Reprinted by permission of City Lights Books.

Anne Waldman

Anne Waldman

A prominent figure in the beat poetry generation, Anne Waldman has published over forty books of poetry and is the cofounder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics.

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