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Diane Di Prima Papers

An inventory of her papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: FD
Date: May 1972

Biographical History

Diane di Prima, poet, editor and teacher, was born August 6, 1934, in New York City, the daughter of Francis and Emma (Mallozzi) di Prima. She attended Swarthmore College briefly in 1951-1952.

In the late 1950's and early 1960's Diane di Prima became a member of a group of New York poets and writers, frequently known as the "Beats," who were centered in Greenwich Village. There she wrote and published several volumes of verse, and helped to found the American Theatre for Poets. She was co-editor of a literary newsletter, The Floating Bear, with LeRoi Jones (Imamu Amiri Baraka) during 1961-1962, and became the sole editor from 1963 to 1968. She was also the associate editor for Signal Magazine (1963-1065) and contributing editor of Kulchur magazine. She was publisher and printer of her own small-scale publishing houses, The Poets Press (1963-1969) and Eidolon Editions (1972-1976) and taught at Naropa Institute School of Poetics, New College of California, California College of Arts and Crafts, San Francisco Art Institute, and California Institute of Integral Studies.

In addition to founding the American Theatre for Poets, di Prima was the director and co-founder of the New York Poets Theatre (1961-1965) and the San Francisco Institute of Magical and Healing Arts (1983-1990), and founder of the Poets Institute.

Her numerous books include more than thirty collections of poetry as well as plays, short stories, novels, non-fiction, translations, and an autobiographical novel, The Calculus of Variation (1966). She has twice received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (1973, 1979) and her work has been translated into over twenty languages.

Diane di Prima was married twice, first to actor/director Alan S. Marlowe 1962-1969) and then to poet Grant Fisher (1972-1976). She has five children: Jeanne (b. 1957), Dominique (b. 1962), Alexander (b. 1963), Tara (b. 1967) and Rudra (b. 1970).

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Diane di Prima Papers comprise Correspondence, Writings in manuscript and printed form, Manuscripts by other authors, Miscellaneous items, and a file of The Floating Bear newsletter. The papers, which date from 1948 to 1971, are arranged in six archival boxes.

Correspondence (boxes 1-2) dates from 1960 to 1971 and is arranged chronololgically. Incoming and outgoing letters are interfiled, but the bulk of the correspondence is addressed to Diane di Prima. Her correspondents include John Ashbery, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Denise Levertov, Walter Lowenfels, Charles Olson, Kenneth Patchen, Louis Zukofsky, and other persons notable in contemporary American literature. There are 98 letters, 1969-1971, from Alan Marlowe and 18 letters from Michael McClure. Some of the letters (including those from "Miles Campion," Edwin Denby, Diane Wakoski, "Anton Webern," and John Wieners) were published in The Floating Bear. A complete name index of the letters is appended to this inventory, and a chronological shelf list of the letters is available in the Manuscripts Division.

Manuscripts submitted to The Floating Bear and copies of the published newsletter itself are arranged in box 3. Of the 37 newsletters that were published, the first 35, 1961-1968, are present in the papers. The 86 manuscripts are submission copies of articles, poems, and reviews, arranged alphabetically by the authors' names. Prominent among the authors are Robert Creeley, LeRoi Jones, Kenneth Koch, Frank O'Hara, and Gary Snyder. Details on individual manuscripts appear in the accompanying shelf list; standard abbreviations indicate the physical form of the manuscripts, and dates are listed in the shelf list when they appear on the manuscripts. The number of the newsletter in which the manuscripts appeared is marked on most of them. All manuscripts of Diane di Prima are isolated in the next section, Writings.

Note: Other Floating Bear records are reported at Indiana University.

Writings of Diane di Prima in manuscript and printed form (boxes 3-6) date from 1948 to 1968 and have been organized first by type and then alphabetically by title. These include a diary, nine notebook volumes, four manuscript plays, four reels of recording-tape readings, manuscripts of three groups of collected verse, and two folders of miscellaneous verse. The physical form of the writings is indicated by standard abbreviations.

A group of Miscellaneous material closes the papers in box 6. There is one folder of material on the American Theatre for Poets. Other items relate to the editing of The Floating Bear.

Purchases, 1963, 1968-1971


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Ashbery, John, 1927-
Allen, Donald Merriam, 1912-
Baraka, Amiri, 1934-2014.
Bergé, Carol, 1928-2006.
Berkson, Bill.
Berman, Wallace, 1926-1976.
Bissett, Bill, 1939-
Blackburn, Paul.
Brilliant, Alan.
Codrescu, Andrei, 1946-
Corman, Cid.
Creeley, Robert, 1926-2005.
Cruz, Victor Hernández, 1949-
Dawson, Fielding, 1930-2002.
De Loach, Allen.
Denby, Edwin, 1903-1983.
Di Prima, Diane.
Dorn, Edward.
Doyle, Kirby.
Doyle, Mike, 1928-
Duncan, Robert Edward, 1919-1988.
Eigner, Larry, 1927-1996.
Ferlinghetti, Lawrence.
Fraser, Kathleen.
Gadd, Maxine.
Gervais, Charles Henry, 1946-
Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997.
Girodias, Maurice.
Guest, Barbara.
Henderson, David.
Hollo, Anselm.
Jonas, Stephen.
Jordan, Fred.
Kaprow, Allan.
Kelly, Robert.
Knox, Hugh.
Koch, Kenneth, 1925-2002.
Kupferberg, Tuli.
Lake, Larry.
Lansing, Gerrit.
Laughlin, James, 1914-1997.
LeSueur, Joe.
Levertov, Denise, 1923-1997.
Loewinsohn, Ron.
Lowenfels, Walter, 1897-1976.
Malanga, Gerard.
Marlowe, Alan.
Matson, Clive, 1941-
McClure, Michael.
Meltzer, David.
Merwin, W. S. (William Stanley), 1927-
Morris, James Ryan, 1933-
Motherwell, Robert.
O'Hara, Frank, 1926-1966.
Olson, Charles, 1910-1970.
Patchen, Kenneth, 1911-1972.
Perkins, Michael.
Perkoff, Stuart Z.
Reed, Sweeney.
Rexroth, Kenneth, 1905-1982.
Rumaker, Michael, 1932-
Snyder, Gary.
Solomon, Norman.
Sorrentino, Gilbert.
Soyer, Raphael, 1899-1987.
Spellman, A. B., 1935-
Strong, Mike.
Vas Dias, Robert.
Wakoski, Diane.
Waldman, Anne, 1945-
Waring, James, 1922-1975.
Whalen, Philip.
Wieners, John, 1934-2002.
Williams, Jonathan, 1929-2008.
Zukofsky, Louis, 1904-1978.

Associated Titles

Floating bear.


American literature -- 20th century.
American literature -- Women authors.
American poetry -- 20th century.
Bohemianism -- United States.
Italian Americans.
Literature, Experimental.
Periodical editors -- United States.
Periodicals Publishing -- United States.
Women authors, American.
Women poets, American.

Genres and Forms

Manuscripts for publication.
Scripts (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Diane Di Prima Papers,
Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Library

Table of Contents


The Floating Bear

Manuscripts by others


Miscellaneous material

Seelcted index to correspondence


Seelcted index to correspondence

Letters are listed alphabetically by sender. An asterisk before a letter's date indicates an accompanying envelope.