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Recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years Paperback – March 26, 2002


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Recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years + Memoirs of a Beatnik
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 423 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (March 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140231587
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140231588
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.3 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,030,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Di Prima, perhaps the best known and certainly among the most talented of the beat generation poets, captures the heady atmosphere of New York's avant-garde community in the 1950s and 1960s, while rendering her own life with intimacy and grace. Born in Brooklyn in the mid-1930s, she remembers her Italian immigrant grandmother with great affection. But she describes frightening incidents from her earliest childhood: her father, a sullen, brooding, man, once beat her until her nose bled; her relationship with her mother was equally abusive. In elementary school, di Prima was bullied relentlessly; it was not until she entered Hunter High School for gifted students that she found a circle of friends; there, reading the great poets, she resolved to become a poet herself. Leaving Swarthmore College after what she perceived as unproductive years, di Prima returned to New York City, and embarked on an independent life as a writer. She describes her bohemian lifestyle love affairs with men and women, experiments with drugs with honesty and wit. Friend to many of the best known figures of the beat world, including Allen Ginsberg, Audre Lorde and LeRoi Jones, di Prima found fulfillment in her work as an editor and poet, and as a single mother. She tells her story well, skillfully interweaving events with lyrical commentary on her inner life.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Poet di Prima chronicled her reign as queen of the Beats in her famously explicit Memoirs of a Beatnik (1968). Here she presents an equally frank self-portrait but on a far grander scale, delving so deeply into her past she transcends the personal to illuminate the primal cultural and psychological issues of the fifties and sixties. She was born in New York in 1934 and survived a brutal home life. Precocious and already committed to the writing life as a teenager, she dropped out of college to live a bohemian life in which lovers of both sexes and artist friends of all kinds came and went in a great swirl of Eros and creativity. Experience was valued above security, art was sacrosanct, and women writers were expected to behave like men. But di Prima wanted a child. Her recounting of the dramatic events of her life are riveting in themselves--whether the topic is her struggle as a single mother and woman writer; or the pain and passion of her affair with Leroi Jones, father of one of her five children; or the difficulties of her marriage to a gay man--but, finally, it's di Prima's electrifying perceptions into the nature of sex and love, men and women, art and beauty, drugs and spirituality, and freedom and commitment that keep readers glued to the page. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Ms Boyer on May 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Diane di Prima has led an extraordinary life. A rebel from an upwardly-mobile immigrant family, pioneering beat writer, single mother, friend to artists of all stripes, explorer of consciousness, and classical scholar, her story takes the reader through the many worlds of New York City from the 30s to the 60s. At the same time she explores the inner worlds of memory, dream, and vision -- reveals how the soul's struggle for its own liberation is intimately related to the struggle for freedom in society. di Prima uses language with a poet's freedom, weaving her memoir from straight narrative, reflective essay, family stories, inside jokes, journal entries, letters, Buddhist cosmology, and western occultism. di Prima struggled through the abuse of her family and broke the rules of society to create a life on her own terms; as an artist, a woman, and a mother. What a gift this book is.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By FullMind on December 15, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book, presenting a brilliant vibrant picture of a cultural movement and time, the Beats/Hippies, and a woman who embodied all the artistic and humanistic values in an incredibly pure form. To me, the book (and the woman) are inspiring in their dedication to the values of art, spontanaeity, love, and Zen naturalness. An invaluable read for women artists, especially, and also for artists in general, and people interested in a certain world view and life style.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Di Prima is not really meant to be a novelist -- and that's the beauty of this volume. Whereas the backbone of "poetic" writers such as Anne Rice is brutally literary, Di Prima captures all of that grandeur without so much embellishment. It's her poetry all over again: gritty, surreal, heartbreaking, fluid, and ever returning to her theme of what it means to be a woman and how she sought to find that meaning. This is especially gripping in terms of being a bisexual street poet (and later a single mother) in 1950s America. In an era when "gray was the colour and vanilla the flavour" -- when any deviation in hemline or hair length labeled you a communist, her differences were painful. Even the New York beats had a male chauvanist hierarchy that considered themselves far too good for Diane's realism, street language, slang. It seems that every life lesson we have to learn is somehow couched in this book, even through experiences one would hope to never endure.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lorry Hipps on September 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Diane di Prima is one of the most foremost and noteworthy female writers of the Beat generation and the 20th century. She has been affiliated with such writers as Jack Keroac, Allen Ginsburg and Robert Creeley. She wrote and inspired in a mans world bringing to life a new female perspective in the 1950's. She continues to write extraordinary poetry, essays, and amazing prose. Her writing style is original and still refreshing to read fifty years later. Diane in her latest book Recollections of My Life As a Woman : The New York Years, an autobiography, goes on to embrace all aspects of her life as a woman. It was an amazing book. I enjoyed it, and I think most will, even if your forte is not beat generation history. It's a good read for others who want to learn more about the beat generation, and it's a great book because of the excellent narrative, and the obvious love she has for writing as well as life it's self.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be captivating. I felt as though I was right along side her on her journeys. The eras she lived through were so richly detailed. She had so much hope and energy. I never wanted this book to end.
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