Good Poetry- The Beat Women

When most people think of the beat generation and its writers, poets, and characters, the names Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs (all though he was pre and post beats), Gregory Corso, Lucien Carr, Lawrence FerlinghettiLeRoi Jones and of course Neal Cassady, come to mind. There were many other men, of course, whose names are not here, pounding out new forms of poetry, but what about the women? Sometimes it seems as if there are literary periods when women are completely absent from a scene, as if they were only there as caricatures, the girlfriends or the wives, but never the writers. But of course, there were women beat writers. As often happens, many of them have gone to the back shelf of history, but just because you do not become iconic it doesn’t mean you aren’t important or that you and your work does not still exist. Here are a few I like. Good poets.

Diane di Prima  dianediprima6

These eyes are amber, they
have no pupils, they are filled
w/a blue light (fire).

They are the eyes of gods
the eyes of insects, straying
godmen of the galaxy, metallic

Those eyes were green
are still, sea green, or green
their light
less defined. These sea-green
eyes spin dreams on the
palpable air. They are not yrs
or mine. It is as if the dead
saw thru our eyes, others for a moment
borrowed these windows, gazing.

We keep still. It is as if these windows

filled for a minute w/a different


Not blue, not amber. But the curtain drawn

over our daily gaze is drawn aside.

Who are you, really. I have seen it

often enough, the naked

gaze of power. We “charge”

the other with it / the leap

into non-betrayal, a wind

w/ out sound we live in. Where

are we, really, climbing

the sides of buildings to peer in

like spiderman, at windows

not our own

coweneliElise Cowen


The lady is a humble thing
Made of death and water
The fashion is to dress it plain

And use the mind for border

Joyce Johnson-(about the death of Elise Cowen)joycejohnson

got on the Greyhound bus.
Having sabotaged
a few clocks
in the city–
she left me the rest,
and a destiny
of endless chop suey
a beat-up copy of The Idiot
She didn’t own much.
When the electrical doors closed
and the air conditioning began,
the black leather roads
took her.

Her friends
celebrate her departure
with beer and a fist fight.

Her parents
in their impenetrable living room
have drawn the blinds.

hettiecollege-customHettie Jones


Love never held my hand
like those summertime couples
palm to palm, the perfectly
interlaced fingers
the pressures
Love never flung himself
around my shoulder, or
measured my waist
love was a grandmaster though,
and he laughed when he came on
like gangbusters, who
could refuse him, ah.
I knuckled under, no regrets
but I’ve always wondered

Joanna McClure    joannaduo1


Quiet the tension

Pauses of interwoven silence

Smells, textures, buds

Tastes, textures, touches

Braid in with surprises

.      .       .

Each new discovery as

Slow and quiet as a

Possum’s front feet.

Here are some other women beat writers: Mary Fabilli, Barbara Guest, Joanne Kyger, Denise Levertov, Janine Pommy Vega, Ruth Weiss, Mary Norbert Körte, Brenda Frazer, Lenore Kandel.

And if your interested in some bedside table reading: Woman of the Beat Generation.

4 thoughts on “Good Poetry- The Beat Women

    1. Hi Barry, sorry, I’m not very savvy in the computer world, but I think I have the rss up and running, at least, it looks like it is. Thank you for wanting to subscribe.

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