Dinners and Nightmares

by Diane di Prima
(1961)
   Diane di Prima published her prose-and-shortstory volume Dinners and Nightmares when she was 27 years old, three years after her first poetry collection, This Kind of Bird Flies Backwards, appeared. Brooklyn-born di Prima had left Swarthmore College for the excitement of New York’s Greenwich Village, and the exuberance of starting a life among fellow struggling poets, artists, and musicians flows from her eclectic mixture of journal, dreams, dialogues, and poems. Poet robert creeley, in his introduction to the 1974 edition of Dinners and Nightmares, cites both the “clarity” and the sense of an artist still sifting and searching: “Growing up in the fifties, you had to figure it out for yourself—which she did, and stayed open—as a woman, uninterested in any possibility of static investment or solution.”
   Di Prima can be both starkly descriptive and surprisingly witty and funny. The book’s first section, “What I Ate Where,” is an honest prose depiction of the daily and domestic struggles of the starving artist: All artistic context in di Prima’s life takes a backseat to food. She remembers specific shared and spartan meals, as well as rare incidences of indulgence. Typical is an entry from “fall—1956” in which she recalls “garbage soup which was everything cheap thrown in a pot.” At times the meals take place in a group “pad,” but there are also times when home was a key to someone else’s “pad” where she was allowed to “crash” if she needed. There are 13 “Nightmares” and five “Memories of Childhood,” all written in di Prima’s casual, colloquial, (and often unpunctuated) style. Friends, lovers, and family members make appearances in the former, which a critic applauded as an exercise in “existential sarcasm.” “Memories” is an allegory of a young boy who is terrified that only he can see a warrior who stands ready in his neighborhood to drop an atomic bomb. The series of “Conversations” reflects a life of worthy companionship in the bohemian community, but it also plumbs the difficulties of poverty and inequality. In “The Quarrel” she rails silently to a lazy boyfriend about housework: “I’ve got work to do too sometimes,” she thinks to herself, “I am sick . . . of doing dishes.
   . . . Just because I happen to be a chick.” The final section, “More or Less Love Poems,” contains warm lyrics to lovers (perhaps real, perhaps invented) and ends with a welcome song to a soon-to-be-born baby. It is a mark of the young di Prima’s confidence in her artistic identity that she tells her child: “Sweetheart / when you break thru / you’ll find / a poet here.” Di Prima would go on to publish many acclaimed works of poetry.
   Amy L. Friedman

Encyclopedia of Beat Literature. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Early life and military career of John McCain — The early life and military career of John Sidney McCain III spans forty five years (1936 ndash;1981). McCain s father and grandfather were admirals in the United States Navy. McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, and attended many schools… …   Wikipedia

  • Di Prima, Diane — (1934– )    For Diane di Prima, arguably the one female writer most readily identified with the Beat literary movement, “the best travel has always been in the realm of the imagination.” Although not initially part of jack kerouac, allen ginsberg …   Encyclopedia of Beat Literature

  • DaPrima — Diane DiPrima (* 6. August 1934 in Brooklyn, New York City) ist eine US amerikanische Schriftstellerin der Beat Generation. Leben DiPrima galt zuweilen als Archetyp der Beat Frau, eine Bezeichnung, die sowohl ihren enormen Schwung als auch ihre… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • DiPrima — Diane DiPrima (* 6. August 1934 in Brooklyn, New York City) ist eine US amerikanische Schriftstellerin der Beat Generation. Leben DiPrima galt zuweilen als Archetyp der Beat Frau, eine Bezeichnung, die sowohl ihren enormen Schwung als auch ihre… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Diane DiPrima — Diane di Prima, Foto von Gloria Graham während der Videoaufnahmen zu Add Verse, 2004 Diane DiPrima (* 6. August 1934 in Brooklyn, New York City) ist eine US amerikanische Schriftstellerin der Beat Generation …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Diane di Prima — Diane DiPrima (* 6. August 1934 in Brooklyn, New York City) ist eine US amerikanische Schriftstellerin der Beat Generation. Leben DiPrima galt zuweilen als Archetyp der Beat Frau, eine Bezeichnung, die sowohl ihren enormen Schwung als auch ihre… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Diane di Prima — Diane di Prima, photo by Gloria Graham during the video taping of Add Verse, 2004 Diane Di Prima[clarification needed] (born August 6, 1934) is an American poet …   Wikipedia

  • Бит-поколение — (англ. The Beat Generation, иногда переводится как «Разбитое поколение»)  название группы американских авторов, работавших над прозой и поэзией[1][2]. Бит поколение оказывало влияние на культурное сознание своих современников с середины …   Википедия

  • Di Prima, Diane — born Aug. 6, 1934, New York, N.Y., U.S. U.S. poet. Di Prima settled in Greenwich Village and became one of the few women to attain prominence in the Beat movement. In 1961 she cofounded Floating Bear, a monthly featuring notable Beat writers. Her …   Universalium

  • Diane DiPrima — Diane di Prima Diane di Prima, photo by Gloria Graham during the video taping of Add Verse, 2004 Diane DiPrima est une poétesse américaine née le 6 août 1934 à New York. Elle est considérée comme la femme la plus importante de la Beat… …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.