Sunday, August 26, 2012

May 6: Anne Waldman

Internationally recognized and acclaimed poet Anne Waldman has been an active member of the "Outrider" experimental poetry community, a culture she helped create and nurture, for many years, taking on the roles of writer, editor, master teacher, performer, poetics scholar, infra-structure curator, and cultural/political activist. Her poetry is recognized in the lineage of Whitman and Ginsberg, and in the Beat, New York School and Black Mountain trajectories of New American Poetry. Yet she remains a highly original "open field investigator" of consciousness, committed to the possibilites of radical shifts in language and mind-states to create new modal structures and montages of attention. She is the author of more than fourty books, including the mini-classic Fast Speaking Woman, a collection of essays entitled Vow to Poetry, and several selected-poem editions including Helping the DreamerKill or Cure and In the Room of Never Grieve. She has concentrated on the long poem as a cultural intervention with such projects as Marriage: A Sentence, Structure of the World Compared to a BubbleManatee/Humanity, a book-length rhizomic meditation on evolution and endangered species, and the monumental anti-war feminist epic The Iovis Trilogy: Colors in the Mechanism of Concealment, a 25 year project in three volumes, which was awarded the 2012 PEN Center USA Award for Poetry. Her forthcoming book from Penguin Poets (2013) Gossamurmur is an allegory of Imposters, Doppelgangers, Deciders and a romp through Heian Japan and Vedic India.

Publishers Weekly recently referred to Waldman as "a counter-cultural giant." In 1966, she co-founded and directed The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church in the Bowery, working there for over a decade. She also co-founded Full Court Press, with Ron Padgett and Joan Simon, and, in 1974, with Allen Ginsberg, the celebrated Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University, the first Buddhist inspired university in the western hemisphere. Colleagues for many years, Ginsberg called Waldman his "spiritual wife." She is a Distinguished Professor of Poetics at Naropa and continues to work to preserve the school's substantial literary and oral archive. She has edited and co-edited many collections based on the holdings of the Kerouac School including Civil Disobediences and Beats at Naropa. She is also the editor of the collection Nice to See You, an homage to poet Ted Berrigan, The Beat Book, and co-editor of The Angel Hair Anthology. A new cross-cultural anthology published by Coffee House Press is forthcoming in 2014. 

Waldman is the recipient of the prestigious Shelley Memorial Award and is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She has been a fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Umbria, and has held the Emily Harvey residency in Venice. She has worked at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and at the Women's Christian College in Tokyo. She has presented her work at conferences and festivals around the world, most recently in Wuhan, Beijing, Berlin, Nicaragua, Prague, Kerala, Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta, Marrakech, Tangiers, Casablanca and Madrid. She worked for the State Department lecturing at Muslim colleges in Kerala, and taught poetry to Berber School children in Marrakech for the Tamaas Foundation in the summers of 2011 and 2012. Her work has been translated into numerous languages. 

She has collaborated extensively with artists, musicians, and dancers, including George Schneeman, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Tuttle, Donna Dennis, and Pat Steir, and the theatre director Judith Malina. Her fine print collaboration with Pat Steir, CRY STALL GAZE, is in production at the Brodsky Center at Rutgers University. Her play Red Noir was produced by the Living Theatre and ran for three months in 2010. Recently, she has been working on audio, film and video projects, with writer and video/film director Ed Bowes, and with her son, musician and composer Ambrose Bye. With Ambrose, she has created four albums, including Eye of the Falcon, and The Milk of Universal Kindness. A workshop performance Cyborg on the Zattere, with music by composer Steven Taylor and twelve performers, including cellist Ha-Yang Kim, reed instrumentalist Marty Erlich and a Renaissance trio, premiered at the Douglas Dunn Salon in the spring of 2011. This "Poundatorio" takes on the "knot" of Ezra Pound, his poetics and politics. It includes settings for parts of the Pisan Cantos.

For many years, Waldman has worked with the anti-nuclear Guardianship Project in Boulder. In the 1970s, she was arrested, along with Allen Ginsberg and activist Daniel Ellsberg, at Rocky Flats, which led to her involvement with nuclear waste accountability. This work, according to Waldman, is "a nearly quarter of a million year project."

Waldman divides her time between New York City and Boulder, Colorado.

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