Diane de Prima and Dream of the East Village Avant-Garde

Freddy was late. He was supposed to be in the East Village at the Poets’ Theatre, where his closest friend, the poet Diane de Prima, was hosting a night of ballroom shows. Recently, friends lost one of their numbers, due to drugs or suicide, they weren’t sure which one. Freddy was dancing in their memory. While the audience waited, de Prima moved down the hall, worried that something terrible had happened to Freddy; She was able to tell that the amphetamines began to disintegrate him. But then he appeared, in black tights, and a black robe, and flat-toed shoes, and a mask drawn on his face. “Kill all the lights,” he told de Prima newspaper. It was the spring of 1964, dancing, for sergio, started.

In silence except for his labored breathing and the sound of his shoes hitting the floor, Freddy Herko raised a candle to the mirror and walked over. cutting edge Down one corridor, across the front of the stage, up the other corridor, then out of the building, he disappeared into the night. “It was a mourning rite,” de Prima wrote in her 2001 memoir, Memories of my life as a woman. Soon after, Freddy Herko died by jumping – in a perfect jet, according to the only witness – from a fifth-floor window in Greenwich Village. De Prima’s friendship with him and his death at age 28 defined her life experiences, and was the focus of many of her books, including Freddy’s poems (1974) and memories. (He also appeared, slightly fancifully, as Leslie in 1969 Pitnick’s diary.) A new book by De Prima, who died last year at the age of 86, offers another view of Hirko and the bohemian scene in downtown early 1960s New York of which they were a part. It was written the year after his death but has not yet been published. Spring and Autumn Annals: A Celebration of the Seasons for Freddy It takes the reader through de prima’s mourning rituals – for her friend, for the changing environment of their scene, and for a city without Freddy, she can no longer hold.

Often called a Beat writer, de Prima spent the formative years of her already long career in downtown (libraries, lofts, coffee shops) Manhattan in the late 1950s. She moved not only between the Beats but between the New York School, the Black Mountain, and the Warholians as well. In fact, it was central to all of these societies. With Leroy Jones (later Amiri Baraka), Alan Marlowe, James Waring, and Herko, she co-founded The Poets Theatre, which staged experimental one-act plays by poets, including many of her own. In partnership with Jones, I created floating bear In 1961, an illustrated newsletter on poetry, prose, and art connected avant-garde artists and popularized their diverse styles. Charles Olson, Barbara Guest, Robert Creeley, and many others appeared in his pages; Bands of artists, including jazz pianist Cecil Taylor, who operated the early numbers transcription machine, participated in its compilation. In 1964, she bought the Fairchild-Davidson offset press, took a free week-long course on how to use it, and founded the Poets’ Press. Under his imprint, de Prima put together the first books of AB Spellman, Herbert Hunke and Audre Lorde.

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