Expanded 50th anniversary edition of the City Lights classic, featuring fifteen new poems. Simultaneously released with Diane di Prima’s Spring and Autumn Annals on the one-year anniversary of her passing.
By turns a handbook of countercultural living, a manual for street protest, and a feminist broadside against the repressive state apparatus, Revolutionary Letters is a modern classic, as relevant today as it was fifty years ago. In 1968, visionary poet Diane di Prima moved from Beat New York to hippie San Francisco to begin these “letters,” poems filled with a blend of utopian imagination, radical politics, and ecological awareness. Immersed in alternative histories and mystical traditions, the poems were catapulted into the world through underground newspapers and free pamphlets, circulating far and wide. In 1971, Lawrence Ferlinghetti published the first of four ever-expanding book versions in the Pocket Poets Series. In her last years, di Prima oversaw the final iteration of this lifelong project, adding poems written between 2007 and her death in 2020. This 50th Anniversary edition marks the long-awaited return of Revolutionary Letters to City Lights.
Praise for Revolutionary Letters, 50th Anniversary Edition:
“There is a generosity and affection in Revolutionary Letters that I find myself returning to, always, when I’m at my most cynical and feeling lost for any understanding of what a better world might look like. When I need to be grounded and re-centered in my understanding of community care as a living, breathing, full-time mission. And, quite simply, when I need to be reminded of how language can begin on the page, and echo far beyond.”–Hanif Abdurraqib
“What’s astonishing about Diane di Prima’s Revolutionary Letters is how these poems are adamantly useful. A manual of insurgent instruction, these poems tell you how to mitigate tear gas and sleep deprivation, eat a healthy diet, and overthrow the state. This book is ever more urgent in our moment, as a resurgent left faces down the apocalypse. Revolutionary Letters is a time machine towards a better future.”–Ken Chen
“With this new and expanded edition we are offered a window onto a master poet redefining revolution over her lifetime. Di Prima continues to interrogate the ways in which we have been taught to live, love, eat, write, fight and take control. How can we make the most of this book and its wisdom? It’s not enough to simply read it or even to write our own Revolutionary Letters. These poems are not realized until we are called upon to act.”–Cedar Sigo
“How do ‘we’ keep fighting? There is no one way, but sometimes you think about lines in Diane di Prima’s Revolutionary Letters. Di Prima’s ‘letters’ feel like they were written to the all of you that always is somewhere coming together. And here you thought this classic couldn’t get any better.”–Wendy Trevino
Revolutionary Letters: 50th Anniversary Edition (Pocket Poets Series No. 27)
City Lights Books 2021