Expanded 50th anniversary edition of the City Lights classic of eco-feminist-Zen Beat poetry, featuring fifteen new poems. Simultaneously released with Diane di Prima's Spring and Autumn Annals on the one-year anniversary of her passing.
By turns a handbook of countercultural living, a manual for street protest, and a feminist broadside against the repressive state apparatus, Revolutionary Letters is a modern classic, as relevant today as it was at its inception, 50 years ago.
During the tumult of 1968, Beat poet Diane di Prima began writing her "letters," poems filled with a potent blend of utopian anarchism and Zen-tinged ecological awareness that were circulated via underground newspapers and stapled pamphlets. In 1971, Lawrence Ferlinghetti published the first collection of these poems in his iconic Pocket Poets Series, and di Prima would go on to publish four subsequent editions, expanding the collection each time. During the last years of her life, di Prima got to work on the final iteration of this lifelong project, collecting all of her previously published "letters" and adding the new work, poems written from 2007 up to the time of her death in October 2020. Published in a board-bound edition that proudly features the original edition's cover art by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Praise for Revolutionary Letters, 50th Anniversary Edition:
"With this new and expanded edition we are offered a window onto a master poet redefining revolution over her lifetime (through a prism). Di Prima continues to interrogate the ways in which we have been taught to live, love, eat, write, fight and take control. In her classic poem "Rant" (Revolutionary Letter #75) she describes this mindset as 'a multidimensional chess / which is divination / & strategy'. This time reading through I was reminded of Baraka's Wise, Why's, Y's and Ginsberg's The Fall of America. How can we make the most of this book and its wisdom? It's not enough to simply read it or even to write our own Revolutionary Letters. These poems are not realized until we are called upon to act."––Cedar Sigo
"How do 'we' keep fighting? There is no one way, but sometimes you think about lines in Diane di Prima's Revolutionary Letters. Di Prima's 'letters' feel like they were written to the all of you that always is somewhere coming together. They remind you that you are a part of something, that as sure as you have enemies who want things like jobs, you have friends who want everything. The new letters in this expanded edition continue di Prima's tradition of telling you things you need to know—like 'you have only / so much / ammunition' & how a poem can matter as 'the memory / of the poem / tak[es] root in / thousands / of minds.' & here you thought this classic couldn't get any better."––Wendy Trevino
"Revolutionary Letters are action philosophy on the road to soul-building, to our realized mammal-hood, and to our humanity … di Prima's imagination and inspiration cause these poems to become more brilliant with the passage of time, and with the growing number of more recent Letters water-falling over the lip of what we think is possible"—Michael McClure