The University Record, March 18, 2002

Post-beat poet Anne Waldman draws rave reviews

By Wanda Monroe
University Library

Anne Waldman (Photo by Wanda Monroe)
“Absolutely nobody was ever tired at 33 St. Marks Place; and amid that current and historical rebel splendor was Anne—cool, classical, beautiful, energetic, intelligent and in charge. Everyone was in love with her. It was the Summer of Love Anne Waldman.”

These words, a reflection of a timeless friendship between noted poet and National Public Radio correspondent Andrei Codrescu and post-Beat poet, Anne Waldman, were part of a poem written by Codrescu and shared with an enthusiastic crowd of nearly 200 who gathered in Hutchins Hall March 13. The event kicked off a three-day symposium that included poetry readings and panel discussions. “Makeup on Empty Space: A Celebration of Anne Waldman” featured Codrescu, Waldman, and 25 award-winning poets who were on campus to celebrate the University Library acquisition of Waldman’s archive.

Codrescu’s poem, “Who’s Afraid of Anne Waldman?” offered a historical perspective of his memories of Waldman, her involvement with the St. Mark’s Poetry Project in New York City, her activist career and the “counterculture,” her involvement with the Naropa University community, her many friends, and an overall tribute to her and her poetry.

During the late 60s and 70s, Waldman directed the St. Marks Poetry Project that Codrescu termed “the literary heart of the lower east side, which was the number one Bohemia in the world in 1968.” He called it “the inner sanctum, the command bunker of the New York School of Poetry,” where everyone was a poet and Waldman was the “dark commando” who opposed the establishment.

Internationally known and respected for her poetry, Waldman has won numerous awards and grants including the International Poetry Championship Bout in Taos, New Mexico. According to Codrescu, “I did find Anne on stage pretty scary. At the Taos Heavyweight Poetry Bout, my money was on Anne.”

“Anne’s genius then as always, is to give back in talk what the world gave her in sound—texture, fact, gossip and news—intense talk, thick with the density of various streams, not just language hoping to win the lottery,” Codrescu said.

The audience was treated to an impromptu reading from Waldman, who presented her poem, “Makeup on Empty Space.” A performance artist, Waldman demonstrated her theatrical talents, as well as her poetic skills, as she read to a captivated audience.

Waldman is a Distinguished Professor of Poetics at The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder, Colo., a program she co-founded with poet Allen Ginsberg in 1974. She is the author of more than 30 books, and editor of “The Beat Book.”

The archive, which is now available for scholarly research, is located in the Special Collections Library on the seventh floor of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library. It includes more than 75 feet of letters, manuscripts, tapes, photographs, serials and books. An exhibition of selected materials is currently on display in the Special Collections Library through May 25.

The symposium was sponsored by Arts of Citizenship Program, Arts at Michigan, Thomas A. Baird, Center for the Education of Women, LS&A, Friends of the University Library, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, Institute for the Humanities, Office of the President, Office of the Provost, Special Collections Library, School of Information, and the University Library.

For more information about the Waldman archive or the current exhibit, contact Kathy Beam, curator, Special Collections Library, (734) 764-9377.