Digging Past Trash

After reading Diane di Prima, I was floored. Her poems were unlike anything I’d seen before: unfussed, insightful, relatable. She made the other Beat poets more accessible to me. More importantly, she made me want to write.

After reading Diane di Prima, I wrote poetry every night for years. I made chap books and gave them to my friends. I won a few honorable mentions and was published in some probably less than aboveboard anthologies.

I stopped writing poetry when I moved away from my hometown and got serious about academics. I wrote papers instead. But I kept all my poems. I put them in a shoe box, a boot box actually, that was a perfect 8.5 x 11” fit for loose papers. It was full to the top. There was well over a ream’s worth of poems in there, maybe close to two–a thousand pieces of paper.

I carried that box with me through a dozen moves. I don’t remember the day I threw it away, but I think I was pregnant and moving into the first home that had my name on the mortgage. I think I was leaving behind childish things and past lives. Perhaps I was manic. I often purge my possessions when I’m manic.

Either way, I wish I still had them, all those poems from my twenties. Even if it might be embarrassing to read them now, I bet they weren’t all bad.


Excerpt from Song for Baby-O, Unborn by Diane di Prima

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