man has been a dynamic voice in American poetry for more than three decades. While she has most commonly been associated with the BEAT writers, she also has been an active member of the post-Beat New York poetry underground. In her practice she reaches back to the archaic nature of poetry. She says of her work: "I want [my poetry] to be ... a sustained experience, a voyage, a magnificent dream, something that would take you in myriad directions simultaneously, and you could draw on all those other voices and you could pay homage to ancestors and other languages—a poem that would include everything and yet dwell in the interstices of the imagination and action" (Ricci).
Waldman was born in Millville, New Jersey, and raised in New York City. From an early age she was influenced by the Greenwich Village arts scene of the late 1950s and early 1960s. She graduated from Bennington College in 1965, moved back to New York and, with Lewis warsh, started the literary magazine Angel Hair, and became the director at the St. Mark's Poetry Project in the Bowery (see poetry institutions). In 1947 she joined with Allen GINSBERG to found the Jack kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Institute, an experimental Buddhist college in Boulder, Colorado. As a powerful female presence in the overwhelmingly male beat literacy movement, Waldman has served as a role model for many younger poets. She is the author of more than 40 books. Waldman has also received many awards, including the Dylan Thomas Memorial Award (1967), the Poets Foundation Award
(1969), and the National Literary Anthology Award
Although she had already published several books, her reputation was firmly established with her breakthrough collection, Fast Speaking Woman (1975), which returned to the chant as its primary from (see poetry in performance). W. C. Bamberger has described the chants in these poems as having replaced her earlier voice with "a petroglyphic scratchiness that rose up into their space" (131). Seeing Waldman read/perform her poems is often likened to watching a shamanic ritual. Her most ambitious work is Iovis (1993), a long elegy, very much in the tradition of paterson and the cantos (see long and serial poetry).
Iovis ambitiously incorporates many forms, including prose excerpts from letters, news reports, and narrative summaries. In the poem Waldman also explores a wide range of male personae. She aggressively pushes this poem beyond its limits not only in terms of form, taking the traditional collage nature of the elegy to extremes, but also at the level of the utterance: "work this / doesn't work it will, though / working words till they work." Just as Waldman invites her audience to participate in the energy field of her poems during an act of performance, here she invites the silent reader to watch as she struggles with the act of composition.
Early in book I of Iovis, Waldman gives credit to her forefathers, "those epic masters, [William Carlos] williams, [Ezra] pound, [Louis] zukofsky, [charles] olson," while making it evident that she is also questioning the male-dominated model of the elegy itself. For more than 40 years she has been making poetry, as she remakes herself, evolving from a fast-chanting woman to a new epic master in her own right.
Bamberger, W. C. "Emptiness inside the Compound: The Architecture of Anne Waldman's Reality." Talisman 13 (fall 1994-winter 1995): 130-136. Notley, Alice. "Iovis Omnia Plena." Chicago Review 44.1
(1998): 117-130. Ricci, Claudia. "Anne Waldman: A Profile," Writers Online. Available on-line. URL: www.albany.edu/writers-inst/ olv1n2.html. Downloaded September 2003.
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