...till we learn to make our own music - Partho P. Chakrabartty curates diane di prima
Today's post is a guest post. It's a real joy to have fellow writer Partho P. Chakrabartty curate this beautiful poem. Partho is a dear friend whose insight and work has been important in shaping my own journey with poetry. Poetly lives for such engagements
He writes about his relationship with the poetry of Diane di Prima:
Diane di Prima started off as a Beat poet, but spiraled into so much more—revolutionary, activist, mother, teacher. One can guess how cool she is from her latest enthusiasm: as a grandmother, she has taken up computer gaming.
Like many women artists, she has often been hyphenated with famous male figures, most notably Amiri Baraka (a.k.a. LeRoi Jones); this civilizational blindness has robbed me of her work until very recently. I am grateful I got to read her now.
I started off as a pucca aestheticist in poetry, but sometime after another poet friend introduced me to the work of Kaifi Azmi, I have moved to a point where aesthetics can almost feel like an affront in a world that is burning. It is this feeling that di Prima articulates.
My aversion to aesthetics has since been tempered; I realized a world with no time for poetry would not be a world worth living in. But rather than thinking of poetry as some kind of aesthetic Everest to be scaled by masters, I like to think now of poetry as a conversation, with oneself and one’s fellows, as a tool for everyperson to live their own life with more attention, intensity, and generosity.
As a result, like di Prima, I now reject notions of greatness. For too long poetry was concerned with legacy, with damming the flow of time, or pretensions towards eternity. Many, many crimes are committed in the name of these things. Much more important now is for more and more of us to ‘learn to / make our own music’.
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