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Revolutionary Letters

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  358 ratings  ·  49 reviews
The first of these poems were written during the active days of the late 1960s, and published by the underground press throughout the US and abroad. They were also used as guerrilla theatre. The poems in this edition address some of the history of the past 20 years and were written as the various occasions arose.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Last Gasp (first published 1971)
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Average rating 4.32  · 
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Jul 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, poetry
One of the few Beats still worth reading.
Vivienne DiFiore
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What to say...what to say.

Anything in prose seems lacking.

I spent a lot of time with this book of poems. I had been seeing references to it all over. I don't even remember hearing about it before this year.

This text feels uncannily close to us. And by us I mean those of you who know what I mean when I say us. Even the shorthand use of "yr" and "wd" is strikingly similar to how I txt. Let alone the nuances of the pieces revolutionary inclinations. The troublings, the poetics, the practicalities.

Jack Waters
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
Diane di Prima’s late-60s/early-70s revolutionary fervor with her vision of continuance is shown in these Rilke’s-to-a-Young-poet-like Letters. Instead of a blurbed diary of Look What I Did, it is written to those who want to be prepared for the clarion call of the imminent day’s struggle. It reads nearly as well today as it would have upon its initial release.

In this, the second edition, there are 49 brief letters exhorting the reader and would-be revolutionary on the likely-overlooked aspects
Amber Tucker
Jun 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: contemporary Beats

Left to themselves people
grow their hair.
Left to themselves they
take off their shoes.
Left to themselves they make love
sleep easily
share blankets, dope & children

they are not lazy or afraid
they plant seeds, they smile, they
speak to one another. The word
coming into its own: touch of love
on the brain, the ear.

We return with the sea, the tides
We return as often as leaves, as numerous
as grass, gentle, insistent, we remember
the way,
our babes toddle barefoot thru the citie
Robert Reinhard
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Diane di Prima died October 25, 2020 in San Francisco. These poems originating in the 60's but some few added as late as in the 2000's, you couldn't just label them one of the great "beat" or "protest" or "feminist"or whatever style of books or "new" since they are based in the origins of poems. From the vantage point of the upside down conspiracy, right-wing world we live in now, her seeming radicalism is like being centrist. also musical, beautiful, coherent. It's sad to imagine a time without ...more
Dec 26, 2020 added it
Shelves: poetry, left
This is everything; poetry, love, a guide, a how-to book, and advice for revolutionaries.
Written tenderly, and achingly.
nowhere we can go but they are waiting for us
no exile where we will not hear welcome home
‘goodmorning sister, let me work with you
goodmorning brother, let me
fight by your side’

shared with me by a former student who stumbled across it on her own and wanted to know my thoughts. this was wonderful, clear-headed, pragmatic poetry--reflections and instructions for the times at hand (both in 1971 and today). there were a few moments where it steered almost into an uncomfortable hint of ecofascism,
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism
I picked up this book of poetry at City Lights in San Francisco and read it on every BART ride and spare moment. It was the perfect book for the perfect time. di Prima was writing revolutionary poetry at the same time as the Beats, and with the same fervor. I've heard her described as "utopian anarchism" and I couldn't agree more -with every critique of the state, there is a battling cry for love. ...more
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
favorite poetry I've ever read. powerful thinker, incredible woman ...more
Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
let no one work for another
except for love, and what you make
above your needs be given to the tribe
a common-wealth

none of us knows the answers, think about
these things
the day will come when we will have to know
the answers.

attaching this article bc it came to mind Often while i was working my way through this collection ?

anyway, i think a lot of this is really Good & really Galvanising, full of tender, generous, relentless questions & demands & challenges, & am taking it as an invitation to figur
Brice Fuqua
Oct 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
Anarchist beat poetry, mainly from the late 1960s and early 1970s. About as dated as poetry can be. Revolutionary Letters is earnest, self-righteous and completely humorless. Many of her targets were worth attacking but they are done in such a heavy handed way the poems come close to parody.
However, one can credit di Prima for being concerned with events outside her own life. Most of the Beats were navel-gazing egotists detached from larger world events. The great irony of this book is that man
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Some lines that were stilletos in 1966 are clown shoes in 2020 but "BLOW UP THE PIPELINES" is timeless. So is "declare a moratorium on debt." Admire the ferocity and conviction: "a million times a day, we are born / a million times, each breath life and death: / get up, put on your shoes, get / started, someone will finish." The book is sold out everywhere. Had to ILL it. ...more
Lea Dokter
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Greatly inspiring with regards to poetic form, revolutionary food for thought.
"For every revolutionary must at last will his own destruction/rooted as he is in the past he sets out to destroy" (Revolutionary Letters No. 12)
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
required reading, finish the sentences, keep going off the page:

"...we are
endless as the sea, not separate, we die
a million times a day, we are born
a million times, each breath life and death :
get up, put on your shoes, get
started, someone will finish"
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
all the fingers of the night point home to us

- #70
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Diane di Prima's writing is feisty and elegant. ...more
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite-poetry
One of my favourite poets. She is not the fringe of the beats. She is the centre. I also like some of the male beats of course. The best of the beats: Diane Di Prima, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.
Oct 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shocking how much is still relatable today.
manasa k
Oct 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
reread this bc it was FORMATIVE and im sad about diane di prima :(
Liv Lunch
Dec 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
these were very important to me this year
Dec 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
"ALL POWER TO JOY. which will remake the world." ...more
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
live fire transmuted into words
Feb 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Soul-fire in the form of poetry. Forever thankful that I was able to find and read this book.
Oct 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Diane di Prima (1934-2020)

Diane di Prima, famous beat poet, radical, anarchist, activist, died at age 86 on October 25, 2020.

One of the better tributes to her was an interview with her daughter, Dominique di Prima, on CBC radio in Canada:

To get the full flavour of the interview you need to listen to it, as the transcript omits any reference to di Prima’s anarchist politics. Here is one of di Prima’s poems, Revolutionary Letter No. 4:

Sep 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
A slim book of poetry should take a relatively short period of time to read, right?

Well, not always. Diane di Prima's Revolutionary Letters is a wonderfully slim volume of poems that, like a pan of rich fudge or fine music, should be savored, one at a time.

I began reading this volume in January, 2019, finishing it October 24, 2020, one day before di Prima's death at the age of 86. Why so long to finish this book, especially when I had it next to my seat at the dining room table (where I do much
Tatiana Brown
Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Diane di Prima is an example of the type of poet I aspire to be. though she wasn't old enough to be involved in the beat movement, she really pulled from the beats for her style and that to me screams brilliance. One of the things I've always disliked about the beats was the obvious lack of female inclusion; With di Prima I found someone who really spoke to me on the level of the beats but had feminist views that reflected my need to be understood. I really love di Prima and poet Audre Lorde bec ...more
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: beat-poets
A short but impressive book/poem/manifesto by Di Prima, one of the most important of the Beats. This book's been out of print for ages, and rarely comes up on eBay, so I read it on an Anarchist website for free, just like she'd have wanted (not so much the suburban house with A/C and the MacBook, though, I'm sure).

A call to arms for 60s revolution on a large and small scale simultaneously, this is as good a glimpse as you'll get of the aims of many 60s "radicals" and "hippies" (the hippies took
Zachary Littrell
Apr 16, 2015 rated it liked it
An anarchist-flavored beat poetry book. Boy what a hard book to rate...

First, the bad. Many of the letters could have been omitted, with overlapping and reiterated messages. I also just found myself disagreeing with some of the more confusing or naive statements; di Prima seems at times to put down things like science and mathematics -- I'm digging di Prima's preference for living simpler lives, but "theory of numbers" isn't what I'd call a toxic Western concept. I see where she's going with it,
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
heavy stuff moving into revolution---
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Urgh. Can't say I cared for it--though there are a few that stand out as really good, the majority of poems in there are just...incoherent hippie bullshit, for lack of better terms. It's like she forgets that the people she's fighting against are also people, and people aren't born in this love-share-togetherness mode of functioning. Then again, like I said, there were a couple that save the collection. ...more
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Diane di Prima was an American poet and member of the Beat Generation. She was San Francisco’s poet laureate from 2009 to 2011.

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