Spring and Autumn Annals: A Celebration of the Seasons for Freddie

(Author) (Foreword by)

Product Details

$17.95  $16.69
City Lights Books
Publish Date
5.2 X 7.87 X 0.79 inches | 0.65 pounds

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About the Author

Feminist Beat poet Diane di Prima was born in Brooklyn, New York and is the author of more than 40 books. Her poetry collections include This Kind of Bird Flies Backwards (1958), Revolutionary Letters (1971, expanded 2021), the long poem Loba (1978, expanded 1998), and Pieces of a Song: Selected Poems (2001). She is also the author of the short story collection Dinners and Nightmares (1960), the semi-autobiographical Memoirs of a Beatnik (1968), and the memoir Recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years (2001). With Amiri Baraka, she co-edited the literary magazine The Floating Bear from 1961 to 1969. She co-founded the Poets Press and the New York Poets Theatre and founded Eidolon Editions and the Poets Institute. Di Prima was named Poet Laureate of San Francisco in 2009. She has been awarded the National Poetry Association's Lifetime Service Award and the Fred Cody Award for Lifetime Achievement and had also received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Committee on Poetry, the Lapis Foundation, and the Institute for Aesthetic Development. St. Lawrence University granted her an honorary doctorate. Di Prima lived in Northern California and passed away on October 25th, 2020.


One of The Millions' Most Anticipated Books of 2021.

Praise for Spring and Autumn Annals:

"With Revolutionary Letters and Spring and Autumn Annals, di Prima's conversations are continuing apace--a one-two punch of radical imagination and luminous language; memoir and mobilization."--KQED

"City Lights has graced us with two di Prima collections--the previously unpublished Spring and Autumn Annals, and an expanded edition of her classic Revolutionary Letters--a feast from one of the great talents of the Beat generation and beyond. Di Prima, who died in 2020, was a poet we chose time and again for her spiritual examinations, feminist presence, and her passion for and range of linguistic constructs. We're lucky to have these two new volumes, which will inspire deeper contemplation of her work and impact."--Chicago Review of Books

"Spring and Autumn Annals takes the reader through di Prima's own rite of mourning--for her friend, for the changing milieu of their scene, and for a city that, without Freddie, could no longer hold her. ... Annals is a different kind of book in its in-the-moment-ness. Unlike memoirs written decades after the fact, where events are shaded with the wisdom gained in the intervening years, Annals understands much less about the significance of its events. It is raw, immediate, and vulnerable. Yet to treat Annals purely as documentation would be to diminish its literary dimensions."--The Nation

"Part diary and part recollection of their friendship, Spring and Autumn Annals is an intimate account of grief spliced with gossip and observation. ... [di Prima's] prose, visual and textured, is adroit at capturing mood and moving between the philosophical and the quotidian, the avant-garde and the domestic."--The Times Literary Supplement

"Di Prima catalogs the settings and moments that make up a life lived between the countercultures of New York City and San Francisco: the black-box theaters of New York's Greenwich Village, tough conversations at Arthur's Tavern, 'the steam on the windows at Houston Street, ' the drive to Stinson Beach, an endless rotating carousel of apartments and visits from friends. What emerges is a tribute not only to [Freddie] Herko, but to the practice of living collectively in an artistic community, in defiance of the pressure that capitalism exerts on artists to compete with one another. Her account is loving in its attention to detail, fascinating as a historical document, and moving in its portrayal of a life-changing friendship."--Literary Hub

"This volume, studded with beautiful moments ... began as letters [di Prima] wrote daily to dancer and Andy Warhol acolyte Freddie Herko, who leapt to his death from a window when he was 29, leaving many projects and plans unfulfilled. ... With evocative detail and introspective insight, she writes of that loss and the feeling of being turned loose, occasionally unmoored, struggling to create art through years of living in barely habitable apartments. ... A useful document for scholars of the Beat generation."--Kirkus Reviews

"A work of memoir and elegy by one of the great, under-recognized women Beats, a year after her death. Begun as letters to a friend, the dancer Freddie Herko, who died by suicide, the work is both a meditation on friendship and an account of a Brooklyn childhood that turned into a Village adulthood in the thick of a pivotal cultural moment."--Lydia Kiesling, The Millions

"The Annals is not a book of reading but one of writing, living and writing ... She chronicles trips to California and to Freddie [Herko]'s appearances out there appearing in Topanga Canyon outside of Malibu and bringing her on a magical car ride to San Francisco before returning to New York. ... Numerous other friends, those famous as well as those unknown, come and go, then return, then go again throughout. As do the births and early adolescence of di Prima's children alongside her romantic partners and housemates. An intimate log of nearly every person who played a vital role in her emotional life."--The Brooklyn Rail

"While [Spring and Autumn Annals] provides an archive of images--of the players and their artwork--the greater gift is the translucence of the writing, di Prima's urgent impulse to record and remember. It captivates us with a haunting clarity: situations, faces, and sensations slide by like breaking waves, rolling into one another. It's dense and circuitous, demanding that we slow down, savor. ... What Spring and Autumn Annals achingly traces, then, is the mind at work during long seasons of grief, its wistfulness and resilience, the ways a death can tail you, alter you. An avid chronicler, di Prima knew 'the faces float by so fast'--even one's own. In seeking to hold [Freddie] Herko, she was also pausing in self-reflection, tracking the moment when one self surrenders and another blooms."--Lynell George, Alta Journal

"Its historical significance is long overdue. Annals is an elegy and a diary, a memoir that serves as the poet's own almanac. Strictly organized around the four seasons, with chapter breaks only at equinoxes and solstices, di Prima limits her recollections to events that took place in the same season she is writing through. Thus, the bounty of her memories grows slowly into a ripe, complex narrative over the course of the book, and fuses the past decade she spent living with Freddie into an interminable present that is riven by his loss. ... In her determination at capturing and even mythicizing her own hardship, she remains as a memoirist far ahead of her time.--Hyperallergic

"Most significantly, Spring and Autumn Annals provides a window into the underground literary and art communities of the 1950s and 1960s and di Prima's place within them. ... Di Prima's writing and interests continued to evolve over the years, and Spring and Autumn Annals is an important document of its time, adding detail to the portrait of a writer who participated in and supported a variety of artistic communities."--Women's Review of Books

"If you want to learn what Freddie Herko meant, read di Prima's Spring and Autumn Annals. ... We grant di Prima her earned iconicity, her worthy status as a writer--and let's also add as a publisher. But this book is also about something else, a more complex question. Between me and di Prima stands the gulfs of talent, inclination, and historical circumstance. But between di Prima and Herko? Perhaps this book is an attempt to answer why she made it--survived--and Freddie didn't. ... Annals promises no rebirth, no reengagement with the world, no redemption of the dead. Rather it reveals the only thing that can happen with grief, if anything ever does. Over time, it lessens."--Full Stop

"The time period is absolutely absorbing--far more so than Recollections of My Life as a Woman, her formal autobiography, In fact, it covers some of the same ground, but in an entirely different style. The language is stunning--a delirious stream-of-consciousness that I had never seen in di Prima's prose before"--Beatdom

"For years, the manuscript for this book sat in a box in di Prima's apartment. Now that it's finally in print from City Lights, her longtime publisher, it's cause for rejoicing for fans of di Prima, and for aficionados of the Beat Generation, which she insisted was a state of mind and not tied to any decade or specific years. ... In Annals, Diane di Prima's imagination is on fire and her memory is as precise as ice. It's a winning combination."--Jonah Raskin, New York Journal of Books

"The book is a treasure. Moving between the East Village, San Francisco, Topanga Canyon and Stinson Beach with young children, Di Prima's life is unbelievably rich. She studies Greek, writes, prepares dinners and feasts, and co-edits Floating Bear magazine. Diane di Prima is one of the greatest writers of her generation, and this book offers a window into its lives."--Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick

"Extolled by a writer who radically devoted herself to the experiential truth of beauty and intellect, in poverty and grace, in independent dignity, and in the community of Beat consciousness, Diane Di Prima's Spring and Autumn Annals arrives as a long-lost charm of illuminated meditations to love, life, death, eros and selflessness. An essential 1960s text of visionary rapaciousness."--Thurston Moore

"Freddie Herko wished for a third love before he died; and what a love is in this book's beholding, saying, and release. Di Prima's dancing narrative, propelled and circling at the speed of thought, picking up every name and detailed perception as a rolling tide, fills me with gratitude for the truth of her eye. Nothing gets past it, not even the 'ballet slippers letting in the snow.'"--Ana Bozičevic, author of Joy of Missing Out

"A masterpiece of literary reflection, as quest to archive her dancer friend's life, to make art at all costs and the price dearly paid. Di Prima's observational capacity is profound, her devotion and loyalty assures her deserved place as a national treasure. She generously instills in us the call of poetic remembrance as an act of resistance, and gives voice to the marginalized participants in experimental cultural movements that carried courage in creative rebellion while envisioning freedom of the human spirit. Di Prima's poetic memoir of the artist journey is a triumph. A must read and reread for years to come."--Karen Finley, author of Shock Treatment