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Revolutionary Letters

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  291 ratings  ·  32 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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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
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poems
"we greet the dark"

its crazy to see how many of us find ourselves on a similar trajectory diPrima was exploring in the 70's
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
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.
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 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Diane di Prima's writing is feisty and elegant.
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
favorite poetry I've ever read. powerful thinker, incredible woman
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
all the fingers of the night point home to us

- #70
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.
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
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 ...more
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.
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
di Prima's utopian vision is a brave, political and spiritual dare, her brashness is refreshing. She writes/speaks as personally and declaratively as Dorothy Parker. She celebrates selfhood in that beatnik-y way that female poets are always torn apart for and she does it well. This book is really a trove of gems filled to the brim with heartfelt politics. I love her and I read it over and over and over again.
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
From "Revolutionary Letter #9":

"None of us knows the answers, think about
these things.

The day will come when we have to know
the answers."

From "Revolutionary Letter #10":

"These are transitional years and the dues
will be heavy."

From "Revolutionary Letter #40":



Aug 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
i'm not all that in to poetry, but as you can probably tell from my book list, i've been getting more into beat stuff, and this book is really good. this book meant a lot to me, even though that sounds dumb. y'all should definitely read this. some of the poems are dumb, but overall they're really good. she's able to infuse passion into poems about practical things.
Nov 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
To reread again, right now.
James Tracy
Jan 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I was given this book by my High School English teacher--it pretty much stayed in my back pocket for years until it finally fell apart. I'm glad Last Gasp has finally reissued it.
Sep 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Overall really solid. Definitely shows its age at times, ie is kinda racist sometimes. Other stuff is beautiful. Some will be in my head for quite a while.
Rachel Matsuoka
Feb 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm not usually one for poetry, but Diane Di Prima's poems are badass political pieces of art.
Dec 20, 2016 added it
kind of weirdly reactionary? like it made me realize i want my revolution to include vaccines and cities. but also, helpfully mind-freeing and oddly stirring to read.
Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The single greatest book of poetry written in the last century.
James Payne
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Some stellar, unforgettable poems and conceits amid some alt-left woo-woo.
Oct 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
"the best thing to do with a mimeograph is to drop it from a five story window, on the head of a cop"
Dec 22, 2012 added it
loved it. makes me want to fuck shit up and make love.
Aug 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
good to have on hand and read every now and then to keep our revolutionary limbs from becoming vestigial deadwood
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
These poems are more like the ultimate hippie manifesto/ step by step manual and instructions for an imminent revolution
John Levi
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
really good, did not like some of the "back-to-nature" anarcho-primitivist poems tho

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Diane Di Prima is an American poet.
“More or Less Love Poems #11:

No babe
We'd never
Swing together but
the syncopation
would be something wild”
“The best thing to do with a mimeograph is to drop it from a five story window, on the head of a cop” 6 likes
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