Anne Waldman: poet, editor, performer, professor, curator, cultural activist carries in her genetics the
lineages of the New American Poetry, and is a considered an inheritor of The Black Mountain, Beat (Allen Ginsberg
called her his "spiritual wife") and New York School (Frank O'Hara told her to "work for inspiration, not money")
mantles as well as being an originator of her own deeply investigative and polyvalent "modal structures". She is a
noted performer of her own work, and its rhizomic sprechstimme strategies. Waldman has helped create and nurture
poetry zones in the USA and abroad for much of her life. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts award,
the Shelley prize for poetry, and has had residences at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, The Atlantic Center
for the Arts, The Rockefeller Foundationís Bellagio Center and at the Christian Woman's University in Tokyo. She has
taught experimental writing workshops for years at the Zen Mountain Monastery, as well as universities and colleges
across the USA and abroad. Recent appearances and residencies: Wesleyan University, Barnard College, Cal Arts, and
The University of Buffalo, and she participated in a recent Poetry festival in Mumbai this past February of 2007,
and the PEN World Voices in New York. Directing the Poetry Project at St Mark's Poetry Project over a decade,
she co-founded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics with Allen Ginsberg at the Buddhist-inspired Naropa
University in 1974. She currently is a Distinguished Professor and Chair of Naropa's Summer Writing Program.
Author and editor of over 40 books and small press editions of poetry, including the epic IOVIS project
(two volumes published by Coffee House Press, 1993, 1997, the full test: Colors In The Mechanism of Concealment
due in 2009) and has published in recent years: Marriage: A Sentence, Penguin Poets 2000, In the Room
of Never Grieve: New & Selected Poems with CD collaboration with Ambrose Bye, Coffee House Press 2003,
Dark Arcana: Afterimage or Glow, with photographs by Patti Smith, Heavenbone Press 2003, and
Structure of the World Compared to a Bubble, a long Buddhist poem, Penguin Poets 2004. She also co-edited
the major anthology Civil Disobediences: Poetics & Politics in Action, Coffee House Press 2004 with talks and
essays by Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka, Michael Ondaatje, Barbara Guest, Robert Creeley, Sonia Sanchez
and others. She has directed productions with the Gertrude Stein Players in Boulder, Colorado and has worked in
collaboration with students, dancers, videographers, visual artists, musicians, composers for over 30 years.
She has, in particular collaborated with artists Joe Brainard, George Schneeman, Susan Rothenberg, Elizabeth Murray,
Donna Dennis and Richard Tuttle and her husband, movie director and writer Ed Bowes. She has also helped cultivate
and worked with poetry programs in Vienna (the historic Schule fur Dichtung) and Prague. She is co-founder of the
Poetry Is News collective which curates forums of political and poetical discussion, and is an co- artistic/curriculum
Director of The Study Abroad On the Bowery Program in New York City. Red Noir, a collection of short performance
pieces and the CD The Eye of the Falcon (produced and with music by her son Ambrose Bye are now available from
Farfalla, McMillen and Parrish. And Outrider, a selection of essays, interviews and poetry, including an interview
Waldman did with Nicaraguan poet-priest Ernesto Cardenal, has just been published by La Alameda press in New Mexico.
She is also a cultural guardian of some of the history and archive of the New American Poetry L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry
and beyond and is active with the Audio Archive project at Naropa which has thousands of hours of readings, performances,
lectures, panels by the likes of William Burroughs, John Cage, Gregory Corso, Jackson MacLow, Jerome Rothenberg,
Allen Ginsberg, Roberto Tejada, Lyn Hejinian, Leslie Scalapino, Diane diPrima, Joanne Kyger, Gary Snyder, Amiri Baraka,
Cecilia Vicuna and many others. Anne Waldmanís comprehensive and ongoing personal Archive resides at the
Hatcher Graduate Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Some of her performance work may be accessed on
Charles Bernsteinís PennSound. She makes her home in New York City and Boulder, Colorado and frequently travels to
other poetry zones throughout the world, most recently the Conference on 20th Century American Poetry in Wuhan, China
and at the International Literature Festival in Berlin (2007).
from IOVIS by Anne Waldman
I escape a tsunami in the soul, the kind
without fund drives, I spray-paint Ratio Fetus
on every bridge in Pennsylvania, I pray Project
Runway never ends, I need the thread, pinprick,
thistle of blood, empty spool.
Iím making a scarecrow. Now sell me
your kerosene. Sell me your singe. I want
these crows in my kitchen to cry, to hang
out their white tongues like hotel towels.
Iíve always enjoyed burning
leaves, little hands, serotine smoke,
the cracked sound of hope, each husk
sowed with its voice.
It wasnít exactly prison sex, but
I was arrested in the South Square Mall,
where I fell in love with those 4 walls
that always = the same answer.
Breeding ground of nerves, sole inlet
where pressure falls, where word is bond,
where it serves as victim and master, as light
and the 1,000 slats it passes through.
Sweet keeper of innumerable keys,
if only you were with me, if only you could see
at what hour these walls become 3. Against
them, with you, we both would be
2, more 2 than anythingís ever been. Maybe
I wouldnít even weep, as mall security
consults those whoíve hurt me most,
just to think, rescue, rescue.
How I barely hang on,
my right, serving for both arms,
raised, searching for some semblance
of bridge, something to save me
from the lip of alone, the quiet
confession: the word
(home) is your home.
Magic canít be black, adhering
to snow, doves, semen, a substitute for Prozac,
disappearing, unrecognized—ism, ga(i)t(e) of in(di)visible
numbers, a man walking, a plank without ocean.
No leeís for these storms on the inside,
reaching for the carrot of sleep, nightís pale ash and promise
of better-than-befores. Who isnít (a) crow
squabbling for their piece of meat, who
isnít meat? Faithís based on the delicacy of wrists,
when it should be the snot on the sleeve,
seeing a man arc back to a bridge,
the surfeit of suffering (re)fill
the vase it came from.
There are only 2 colors,
the way all water flows from the sea,
there is the sun and what it doesnít reach,
the dirt and the music that never meets the ear.
They buried him in his only suit, the sleeves
too long like so many things
we forget to dream. At an Ace Hardware store
a boy picks his paint from a book, torn between
So Much Waiting or Never Finished.
A beautiful woman will always be sawing
a board or a man in half.
Magic canít be black, remember the principle
of maybe-heíll-come-back, the scar(v)es, the blues, greens,
and golds, all these tricks he still holds
up his sleeves.
Season without warning, dumb ribbon,
fistfuls of rope, weather-or-knots, sob at half
broken toys and heroes beckon the black grass,
the halves and the have-knots, crowd beauty
beauty crowds you back.
The Freedom of Information Act
yields no knew knowledge on the water,
the mud my head was held under, the rooster
blood I was christened in. Hierarchy
of rope, practicality of limbs. Swimming
for Dummies. Living knot
undone, one leg in the river
one leg in the sun,
good for putting your eggs in,
legs, more arms than arms.
So the finish flashes its gold, like every
thing thatís given in, the drowsy chick
hopping from the cracked shell
into the well of light, still green
at heart, still 33 seasons
from the point
Renegade season, you bare
ly break inside me, trapped in a tri
angle of want, a radio, pretty laws
of physics, the high seas, no word
of ransom, no frequency, wave
Have you ever seen a second
running from fire, the tenderest flesh, always
seconds away, desire, the history of lifted dresses
I pinch in this kick-ass chili
at 2 in the cruel cruel afternoon.
Even the edge has its edge, its lip
bit; molest, comes from the root— to touch.
When itís cold and quiet, I like to adjust
the satellite of your sex, we come
the closest when we dawn the properties of planets.
Spoon, black dishwater of love,
stainless steal sink,
all this runoff, the useless condom, splatter of crass
and shun, itís a matter of fractions, the brutal instruments,
the cruel life, the hum.
Shhh. Lie back. It will be so...
The sexblood stained the upholstery of my back
seat, itís in the shape of an elegy, the lake
weíd swim in, night, imagine each other
Ďs bodies, the dark parts, cold spots at the bottom,
the things we couldnít see saved us, say the stars
at 2 in the cruel cruel afternoon.
If it wasnít raining, I would pull out
like we were taught not to do in Health & P.E.,
maybe just wait until you bleed. As if nothing
ever happened, as if you were capable of waiting,
Iíd pretend that Iím still coming.
Iím naked, primary and cold, at your
feet, a spool of red thread from my wrist,
2 drops of hot milk, mother of nothing,
you were built for this, typing, sewing
my side to your side, Neil Young
knows nothing about needles, holes,
the barracudas of your soul, so let go
of my throat, the language you call
latex, that protects you from the world—oh
good, youíre making a coat.
My life is the tree that falls
in the forest with no one around. For the record,
it didnít make a sound. I imagine not having
been born yet, failing at having been.
But it is raining. And what has yet to come
will never come, but what has arrived and is already gone,
but what has arrived and is already gone.
Hail, Hail, the kid can swim!
So I float? So I kick
and scream, for no other reason
than being born. I scream even more, youíre
all here to see me bleed, run down roosters,
bees, the buoyancy of already gone, I was just playing
FISH OUT OF WATER.
Not even the Newspaper could save
what wasnít dead, thin dream of in-roads, delivered
in a VW bus, the quick-kiss politics of a darkroom,
negatives held to a prodigal son. Born before
the war, with my ear pressed to the door, to the noise
that says since1986, no 2 people have truly had sex.
We whored our pool via free advertising. Paid
through the nose. "Above ground" is a term I still
donít understand. We all come out swimming. Not a life-
guard for miles. They called me White Lightning
in the stands, but nobody knew my name
was Doubled-Over, that I peed my pants
simply to stay warm. What can you do?
I too want to walk away, but my fans
keep screaming, giddy, selfish, angelic:
RUN, SAM, RUN
We ate Spaghetti-Oís the night he fell
into a mouth darker than imagination, wide
open like a baby bird in mid-cry, blind, waiting
to swallow what sustenance is dropped from an un
But as always, certain shames partake
in their Tetris marathons and their 100,000
turning aways. Or his left leg, full of food,
that on its own accord, refused to be water
Those ghosts of Spaghetti-Oís that haunt
us, that mock even the metaphor of baby bird,
the hunger that comes from so much, becomes
I cave, carve myself a cage, because thereís
no courage in serving oneís self such baby birds.
Christ! who can help themselves to anything.
I arrive through the I
and am carried on by the and, or so
say the certificates, toss and skitter
across parking lots of sand.
Birthmark that keeps drifting, arch
ipelago de-isled, always oceans
always anguish, rain, roads washed, a()way
through the EYE, triangles which swallow
vessels, blood or else, the not-so-sweet
bye and bye.
Seeing so many waves, so many breaks,
" the surfer grabs his board and goes" un-
fledged, without the weight of fathers,
shoulder blades, saline, or midwives
hollering "itís always not quite time."
The problem with parking lots is
the absolute, the infinite, the problem
with sand is it gets caught in the cogs,
the dreams that weigh down a man.
In the prototype nightmare,
Iím stabbed through the spleen, hands
too small to grab hold the soul, anything
that floats, bound to drown,
being already, so holy.
Muzzle of anxiety, cataract
and crux, tormented by hips, the email ends:
"We can never touch, okay?"
No search parties are sent, and whoíd recognize me,
when even I have forgotten
the bones of my face.
A certain purse, overlipped with spilt beer and blank
leaves, alone, knows the would-beís and lost salt
of our unrecorded.
That purse, it alone, returning from each fraction,
each 32 oz. rescue of Sol, knows
the heart tethers,
muscle is closest to rope.
But who am I to de(s)cry sleep from the blind
at birth, from the pond-muck rainbows we mistake
Which is why I smile at the scene in Jesusí Son
with a hunting knife in the eye, the insane search
for the already found.
Please, please, open just for me
your unscrawled leaves,
I want to see the 1 without the 3,
I want to jimmy the just-for-you, to know, at least
what itís like.
But backstage, where we undress, rehearse
how not to; no audience or applause: only leaves
waiting to rise.
And always clothes ghosting away
like a music that only 2 can hear,
looking for a way to break from bodies,
the silhouettes they cut, float, post modern,
down to the cautious hue,
down to the river branches, for a place to lie,
to be unsown, little white leaves, little belly-ups,
at last, right down to the bone!
It rains 32s. Mornings, Iím tired
of pulling your runaway hairs from my mouth.
Hope lashed with numbers, rope,
the unacknowledged country of your-head-on-my-chest,
Darjeeling, lightning that stands still.
Skies of purple kites trapped in trees,
heart-moss crawls the promise of love, blond
skies, wet with a chance
The flock, unmoved by a manís hands
swelling into sledge hammers, pecks its cake.
I save myselves. But the knives
in the trees quiver, the rudderows so still
they approximate water,
and the cricket with plucked legs, laughs steel from his elbows.
The mo(u)rning, hungover and doubled, sinks
into its self-made ocean of sand; ceded by sudden
thirst, I go out looking for the perfect 2,
knowing all there ever is, is 3.
All night long I keep drawing
the charred straw out of your mutest O.
In the name of all the unplanned birds
and the poor soul caught between 2 and 3.
In the name of the stranger I became to her,
lost keychain in the snow, tiny wooden heart.
In the name of her with the deaden(e)d voice
and cords cut, tides and ebullitions inside her,
bound to drown in ebb and argument.
Tide of starfished bodies, torn limb
from limbO, island that always remains
just 99 storms away.
ENDings, married in no calendars,
2 days that never come together,
that do not reach the other ever.