23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Anne Waldman

Portrait Anne Waldman
© Ulrich Schreiber

Anne Waldman was born in 1945 in New Jersey, USA. She grew up in Greenwich Village (New York) the daughter of artistic bohemian parents. Her mother lived in Greece in the 1930s, and was part of the utopian community around Greek poet Anghelos Sikelianos and translated his work; her father was an itinerant piano player who, after serving in Germany in WW II, went to college on the GI Bill. Already at primary school, Anne Waldman started writing poems and became interested in performance, working at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Connecticut during her high school years.
A key event for Waldman was attending the Berkeley Poetry Conference in the summer  of 1965 (the summer before her graduation in literature from Bennington College where she studied with Howard Nemerov and Bernard Malamud) where she met Allen Ginsberg, Charles Olson and founded Angel Hair magazine and Books. She took a »vow to poetry« and made a commitment to helping develop and nurture alternative poetry communities, a vow she has maintained her whole life. She then was the assistent Director and later Director of The Poetry Project at St Mark’s Chruch In-the-Bowery curating events with poets such as Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Gary Snyder and Gregory Corso, and including representatives of seventies punk poetry such as Patti Smith and Lou Reed. A prolific writer herself, she was also presenting readings of her own poems around the country and abroad. Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Books published her poem »Fast Speaking Woman« in 1975. Between 1975 and 1976, Anne Waldman was »Poet in Residence« with Bob Dylan’s »Rolling Thunder Review« appearing in his movie »Renaldo & Clara«.
Waldman has performed at poetry festivals in London, Amsterdam, Bhopal, India, the Czech Republic, Columbia, S.A., and Berlin, among others. Together with her close friend Allen Ginsberg, she founded »The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics« at the Buddhist inspired Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado where she currently is the Chair and Artistic Director of the energetic Summer Writing program and works to preserve the huge Audio Archive holdings of  the school – historic readings, panels, lectures by numerous writers and performers, including many Beat Writers, such ad Diane diPrima, Ginsberg, Burroughs as well as John Cage, John Ashbery Robert Creeley and others of the experimental lineages of the New American Poetry. She has edited several anthologies based on these oral presentations and teachings. She has also been the Director of the Naropa Study Abroad Program to Bali, Indonesia and makes regular visits to that part of the world.
She has also taught at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico and travels to numerous colleges, universities and arts centers around the country lecturing and presenting her work. She helped design the Festival of India poetry readings on the USA, and hosted poets from India at Naropa University in 1985. She also worked for a number of years with the Schule für Dichtung in Vienna and helped with poetry projects in the Czech Republic. Recently she has been involved with the pedagogical wing of the Bowery Poetry Club in New York.
The author has always been a cultural activist, an »infra-structure« poet, organizing »cultural interventions« and political rallies with the Poets Against the War, and the Poetry Is News collective she co-founded with Ammiel Alcalay, a noted translator of Bosnian and Middle Eastern literature.
Since 1970 Anne Waldman has been a student and practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. She is the co-translator of »Songs of The Sons and Daughters of Buddha« (Shambhala Publication), oral texts dating back to the time of the Buddha that were written down 350 years later and included in the Pali Canon. She has always been interested in the oral roots of spiritual and shamanic traditions. I want my poetry to be a modal experience,« says Anne Waldman. »A poem must be carried from paper to the public space, as dramatic experience or public ritual.«
Over the years she has collaborated with jazz musicians and composers Don Cherry, Steve Lacy and dancers Barbara Dilley and Douglas Dunn, and artists Richard Tuttle, Susan Rothenberg and Elizabeth Murray. Her recent books include »In the Room of Never Grieve«, a collection of new and selected poems with a CD collaboration produced with her son Ambrose Bye, a musician and composer. Anne Waldman has published more than thirty poetry volumes, and around 50 books including »IOVIS, Books I&2« (1993/97), »Kill or Cure« (1994), »Marriage: A Sentence« (2000), »Vow To Poetry: Essays, Interviews & Manifestos« (2001), »In the Room of Never Grieve« (2003) and recently a long »Buddhist poem«  based on a pilgrimage to the Borobudur Stupa in Java, under the title »Structure of the World Compared to a Bubble« (2004) . A new book of poems, essays and interviews (including an interview with Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal) entitled »Outrider« has recently been published (2006). Her anthologies include »The Beat Book« and »Civil Disobediences: Poetics & Politics in Action«.
Waldman is the recipient of many prizes, including the Shelley Award for Poetry (1996) and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Art and the Poetry Foundation. In 2006 she was a fellow at The Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center and a participant in the Dodge Festival. The poet lives in New York City and Boulder, Colorado.

© international literature festival berlin