Vow to Poetry

vow-to-poetry2001 • 250 pages • ISBN: 978-1-56689-112-7 • $15.95
Essays, Interviews, & Manifestos
Coffee House Press

Vow to Poetry is a clarion call from one of our most dynamic and iconoclastic poets that tears down the walls of prescribed creative processes. This stirring assemblage of autobiography, interviews, essays on politics, poetics, Buddhism, and Naropa University lays bare a life dedicated to the imperatives of experimental poetry and cultural activism. This is much more than a “how to write” book—it is a “how to live the life of poetry” book. Like a radical instruction manual, this collection plaits together many of Waldman’s most powerfully felt and deeply examined experiences to wake and dare its readers to make the ultimate commitment to one’s life and art.


“On the map from east to west and across the scale from treble to bass, Anne Waldman is possessed with a passion to witness, to understand, and to describe . . . . Vow to Poetry is a vow to life — enlightening, challenging, and crucial to the American tradition.”
—Lisa Jarnot

“A vow is the most radical form of the promise, and to fulfill it demands the most rigorous form of commitment. It constitutes a volunteering of services, and as such it demands not courage but also enormous energy. Those qualities permeate the life of thinking and writing that is reflected (and reflected upon) in this book. The vitality of Anne Waldman’s engagement with poetry is manifest in every pieced collected here, and taken together they demonstrate not only the depth but also the scope and duration of that engagement. This is a wonderful book, informative and also inspiring.”
—Lyn Heijinian

“A vatic, versatile display of Waldmania!”

—Lawrence Ferlinghetti

“From St. Mark’s in the early sixties, to her stewardship of Naropa to her world-wide travels, Anne Waldman has shown herself to be one of the key players on the U. S. poetry scene. Her energy, her total commitment to her art, and her cultural work are a wonder to behold. Anyone who wants to understand how poetry and poetics have evolved over the past four decades, must read this new collection of essays, interviews, and critical prose. Wherever it happened, Anne was there.”
—Marjorie Perloff

“Here is a voice from the frontlines of poetry’s improvisational traditions. Waldman is a wild doctor of generative structures. This is an important book for anyone interested in the intersection of political, performative and spiritual practices.”
—Peter Gizzi