Diane di Prima (1984) at Caffè Trieste, taken by Allen Ginsberg. Photo courteously provided by Richard Modiano.

Diane di Prima is Dead

and though I spent time with Ginsberg,
read poetry with John Weiners,

I was never able to connect with Dianne di Prima.

Now she’s gone.

I’d seen a used copy of Dinners and Nightmares downstairs of Harvard Book Store

we were on a tight budget
Gynn wouldn’t let me buy it.

As soon as we broke up, one of the first things I did was go right back there to the Harvard Book Store basement to buy that book.

Di Prima and I bonded over Oreos and her poetry inspired me to write my first book.

She subsequently helped me learn to
live on my own
in Memoirs of a Beatnik.

I got expelled from UMass Boston for
taking that vintage mimeographed original
of This Little Bird Flies Backwards.

Around this time I discovered Di Prima’s phone number online,

keyed it into my cell
carried it around with me
for years trying to
work up the courage
to call.

If nothing else came of it I envisioned
passing out somewhere in public,
a poetry venue,

bystanders would rifle through my phone
for clues to who to call
In case of an emergency.

When they’d find Dianne Di Prima’s
contact info it would
lend me credibility,

they’d wonder if Di Prima and I were
great friends.

And maybe we could’ve been friends
if we’d ever met.

At the Middle East I once shared a
Rolling Rock
with Janine Pommy Vega

but I never met Dianne Di Prima.

Erik Tate: “When I’m not writing poetry I enjoy oil painting, photography, gardening, and cooking. My favorite poet is Allen Ginsberg, and I am a huge fan of the Beat Generation poets and writers.”

Richard Modiano is a native of Los Angeles. He attended the University of Hawaii and New York University. While a resident of New York City he became active in the literary community connected to the Poetry Project where he came to know Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, Ann Waldman, William S. Burroughs and Ted Berrigan. From 2010 to 2019, he served as Executive Director of Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center. In that time he produced and curated hundreds of literary events. His devotion to poetry and literature relaunched Beyond Baroque for a new generation of writers and artists. Richard is a rank and file member of the Industrial Workers of the World, and the publisher of the Moon & Sun Review. In 2019, he was elected as Vice President of the California State Poetry Society.