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Recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years
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Recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  317 ratings  ·  40 reviews
In Recollections of My Life as a Woman, Diane di Prima explores the first three decades of her extraordinary life. Born into a conservative Italian American family, di Prima grew up in Brooklyn but broke away from her roots to follow through on a lifelong commitment to become a poet, first made when she was in high school. Immersing herself in Manhattan's early 1950s Bohem ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published March 26th 2002 by Penguin Books (first published March 26th 2001)
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Minor Characters by Joyce JohnsonRecollections of My Life as a Woman by Diane di PrimaOff the Road by Carolyn CassadyHow I Became Hettie Jones by Hettie JonesMemoirs of a Beatnik by Diane di Prima
Women Beats
2nd out of 17 books — 7 voters
On the Road by Jack KerouacHowl and Other Poems by Allen GinsbergThe Dharma Bums by Jack KerouacNaked Lunch by William S. BurroughsJunky by William S. Burroughs
Beat Lit
53rd out of 148 books — 114 voters

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This is an exhausting chronicle of an iconoclastic woman who has made a life in art. Diane di Prima, born in the thirties in New York, writes poetry and plays; directs and acts in avant garde theater productions; lives in "pad"; does drugs; has babies; cavorts with jazz musicians and has written it all down. This all began in the 1950's in New York. She was, what I think they used to call a "beatnik" and her depiction of the life is sort of what I imagined it would be when I wanted to be a "beat ...more
This is a fantastic memoir! It reminded me of Patti Smith's Just Kids but a couple decades earlier and less concise. I picked up Recollections after reading DiPrima's Memoirs of a Beatnik, which confused and kind of offended me. It turns out Memoirs isn't a true memoir but one DiPrima was pressured to make exaggeratedly salacious by her publisher. Many of the same stories are told in Recollections, but they're told more humanely.

DiPrima says, "I write this book to try to understand what message
It's difficult to enjoy a memoir when you can't get over your increasing dislike for the author (who you knew nothing about prior to reading - and sort of wish you still knew nothing about). I liked the bits with descriptions of projects and the intricacies of the Beat movement and living in New York in the early '60s. Unfortunately, to get these I had to struggle through passages full of improbable crystal clear 'memories' of being an adult in a three-year-old's body, not to mention paragraph a ...more
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I loved the hell out of this book when I was 15, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was still awesome when it came back from a years-long loan to a friend.
I thought she was pretty annoying, but what do I know.
Anna Rose Canzano
My dad saw I was reading this book and he asked, "Diane di Prima, wasn't she somebody's girlfriend?" She may have had an affair with LeRoi Jones, but no way was she just "somebody's girlfriend." The book details her life and struggles as an independent woman and writer. The Beat Generation was mostly a boy's club, but di Prima was definitely a part, and not just somebody's chick.

The book is long, but she fully conveys what it was like to be a woman/writer/iconoclast in the decades she writes abo
Diane di Prima, in addition to being the principal female writer recognized on her own merits as part of the Beat Era, is the unofficial godmother of countercultural single mothers. Her memoir, like here poetry (which I generally like a great deal) vacillates between the gritty and the mythic and romanticized, and that's not an unfit metaphor for di Prima's life. di Prima made her mistakes, as a lover, an artist, and a parent, and despite her attachment to what she has elsewhere called the "tire ...more
Pilar Gizzi
This is a fantastic book by an amazing woman and poet. Diane Di Prima is known as the most significant beatnik writer. This is the memoir of her life growing up in NY in an Italian family and discovering the Greenwhich Village scene in the 60's and then becoming her own woman and the many people that come in and out of her life along the way. She is deeply connected to NY and falls madly in love when she finds love and she later has babies and identifies enormously with motherhood but through al ...more
This was excellent. I absolutely recommend it. As a woman, an artist, a writer I found this to very inspiring. DiPrima has led such an amazing life, lived through challenging and artistic times. I think this was a very honest portrait of her life and how she became the woman, writer, friend, artist, mother, editor, lover that she was. Throughout the book she gives equal time to her growth as a writer as she does to her growth as a woman due to her life long relationships with family, friends, lo ...more
There's a lot of very interesting stuff about New York in the 1950s and the early beatnik action before the scene became commodified, and, in diPrima's words, "awful poetry proliferated like crabgrass on Long Island lawns."

When she gets into the 60s and marries a mostly gay man she hates, who treats her like shit, and gets into acid and speed, she kind of loses me as I couldn't help but wonder how tough all that must have been for her kids. Call me a square if you must.

"We were pushing the envel
I loved her descriptions and enthusiasm for life during her teen years in NYC during the mid to late 1950s. She lost me when she married a sadistic gay man and had his child, adding to the two children she already had. I just kept wondering: what about the kids? Especially during the parts when she would be doing some gnarly psychedelic or would stay up all night totally immersed in plays and poetry. Also, I'm dying to know since all of her kids are adults now, are they happy? Does she have a go ...more
Andrea Riley
I loved this book. DiPrima is not my favorite writer, I don't like her poetry, and her style in this book wasn't anything special, but she provides an important perspective of being a Beat, a woman, and a poet during this time frame. Her voice and experiences are important to include when praising the Beats. Unfortunately, she apologizes for so much of the sexist behavior of the Beat poets that it gets frustrating. Her justification is interesting to take in to consideration when discussing gen ...more
Debbie Hoskins
Very wise book. Diane is an interesting artist and this book was so helpful in teaching me how to be an artist. She's still alive. I'm not an expert on the Beats, but certainly one of the few still standing.
I love when poets write prose. They are just so thoughtful with word choice and sometimes I'm not smart enough to understand their poetry, but I can understand their prose.
I love this book, but I don't own it. I'm happy with the signed copy of _Memoirs of a Beatnik_.
Ann M
Unlike her other memoir, Memoirs of a Beatnik, this book is not all about sex. It's a more in-depth look at what her circle of friends and acquaintainces were doing, and how they lived, in cold East Village apartments, smoking "dope" and having affairs while running printing presses and organizing political protests. It is bleak in spots, but that can't be helped when you live that close to the bone, and with sadistic, repressive parents as well.
Excellent,impressionistic account of (one particular)Italian-American family dynamic in the New York of the '30's and '40's...less interesting on the Beatnik years of the author since the emphasis is mainly on her liberation from bourgeois standards and the constant reiteration of drugs,sex and general bohemian attitudes becomes a bit wearing...still,worthwhile as the perspective of a woman in the almost exclusively male domain of the Beats...
Katje Richstatter
Memoir from a writer/poet/mother who was in the thick of the New York beat movement in the sixties. Interesting both politically (blacklisting) and personally. DiPrima was a feminist before there was a movement, true to herself and her desires, a good lesson on the ways to skirt convention (even at a time when it was much more oppressive than today).
I really like memoirs. I've lived in NYC. All things that made me think I would like this book, but I didn't. I tried to get through it for months, and made it about 2/3 of the way through the book before I finally gave up. I just couldn't do it. I can't put my finger on why it didn't click for me ... maybe it was too NYC bohemian artsy feminist for me ...
Feb 22, 2008 Elena rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not just for women! and Beat era fans
Recommended to Elena by: E Bomb
The reason to read this book is the very strong writing, but if you need a hipster teaser here's my paraphrase:
'So I dropped off my children including the one I deliberately conceived by Leroi Jones (now Amiri Baraka) without his knowing at my parent's farm in Connecticut (?) so I could do peyote for three weeks with Timothy Leary...'
Jackie Shea
I love Diane diprima. " was so beautiful. For us, who had replaced religion, family, society, ethics with Beauty, who saw ourselves as in the service of beauty, no warnings were understood, no traps anticipated. To go down in the service of That- that was the ultimate grace."
A wonderful read about an extraordinary time in the life of Diane di Prima. Her perspective, what she includes, remembers, poeticizes - magick - as she would say. If you are at all interested in the life of poets, writers, artists than this must be read. Loved it!
Karen Ann
I loved this book and this woman, who has lived without regret and with great passion for art. Her life became another art form that complimented her writing. It is a shame that young women today don't know di Prima. She is my hero.
Diane DiPrima is Fierce, no doubt about it. However, there are too many arbitrary facts, names, dates...I'm more of a big picture person, details kind of bog me down, pedestrian as that sounds.
Liked it the first time I read it for a class; couldn't get into it when I tried to re-read it two years ago. But I was also homeless at the time, so, giving it another go.
Peggy Euteneier
Fascinating saga of life in 1950's Manhattan Bohemia. Can't say I agree with her lifestyle choices much of the time, but what a ride she had! Wonderfully written.
Dustin Wells
oh, another my life as a writer book. well written. i like all the SF stuff. i'm like, Vesuvio's, yeah i just went there for coffee too.
Long, with moments of clarity. I enjoy her voice in writing and learned from her family building decisions. 2009-2010 SF poet laureate.
Jul 22, 2008 Manna is currently reading it
Just found this book tucked away in an awesome used book store. It must have been waiting for me. Can't wait to read it.
Karli (Typographical Era)
DiPrima had such an interesting life. It's fun to read about some of the people she associated with.
Too depressing, couldn't get into it. Why are all autobiographies so depressing?
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Diane Di Prima is an American poet.
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