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Christopher Luna by Alisha Jucevic for the Columbian

Christopher Luna by Alisha Jucevic for the Columbian
Christopher Luna by Alisha Jucevic for the Columbian

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Poetry and Art in Loving Memory of Diane di Prima

Revolutionary poet Diane di Prima is gone, but her work and the positive energy she created and nurtured will live on. I count myself among the poets who consider her a heroic model for how to be a dissident artist and decent, loving human being. 

Diane di Prima and Anne Waldman at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics 
Summer Writing Program, July 1997 (photo by Christopher Luna)

Ten years after I met Diane di Prima at the Naropa Institute, I was thrilled to find her name on my list for the August Postcard Poetry FestHere is the postcard and poem I received from her:

It made me very nervous to write a spontaneous poem to one of my poetic elders. Here is the poem I wrote for her (and the collage postcard I created):  

“Dustbowl Dirge” postcard sent to Diane di Prima, San Francisco, CA August 14, 2007:

EYE CATALYST for Diane di Prima

we are charged with a responsibility

whether we take on the role

            of observer, critic,

            priestess, or shaman


my painter friend is a former Kansas ninja

and the reincarnation of ninth-Century warrior

who smokes to quiet the voices in his head

and understands that to name

may also be to destroy


he brings me finished canvasses

which I am invited to amend according to my liking

and I get nervous, my Sharpie-holding hand trembling

with a sense of obligation

whatever I choose to add

must be right, it must be worthy

must move

must add

rather than take away


we get trashed, laugh

and rub our beards

(mark of our status, for some,

as revolutionary perverts)

we are dangerous

create word bombs

to dismantle capitalism

and undo the hatred in the human heart

while plotting our respective strategies

in the ongoing war against the imagination

A few years later, Erin Dengerink and I collaborated on an artwork based on this poem. She drew the figures in the foreground and cut the holes representing thought bubbles that I filled with collage. I also contributed the lettering featuring a few lines from EYE CATALYST:  

EYE CATALYST for Diane di Prima
by Erin Dengerink and Christopher Luna

EYE CATALYST for Diane di Prima
by Erin Dengerink and Christopher Luna

Here is the postcard and poem I received from Diane di Prima in 2008:

“Poetics of memory” postcard and poem ("Saving Janis") by Christopher Luna sent to Raul Sanchez, Seattle, WA on July 30, 2008 AND Diane di Prima San Francisco , CA on September 5, 2008:



In the photograph

Janis looks like a hippie goddess

open, vulnerable

hair and beads

cascading over her nipples

hands crossed

in front of the flower

of her sex


Frame the fallen queen

and place her portrait

on your bathroom wall.


Rendering each morning

a portal to another time.


If you could you’d wrap your arms around her

whisper sweet words of praise in her ear

and when she closes her eyes to kiss you

hide the half-finished bottle of Southern Comfort

Posted by Christopher Luna with love and respect for Diane di Prima

November 7, 2020

1 comment:

Scatchetpoet said...

Thanks, Christopher, for this loving look. Whatever form Diane is in now, I hope she sees this.