Vow to Poetry

Essays by Anne Waldman

June 1, 2001 • 6 x 9 • 250 pages • 978-1-56689-112-7

A trumpet call from our most iconoclastic poet that tears down the walls of prescribed creative processes.

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.

About the Author

Anne Waldman is the author of numerous volumes of poetry including the feminist epic The Iovis Trilogy: Colors in the Mechanism of Concealment, which won the USA Pen Center Award for Poetry in 2012. Other recent books include Manatee/Humanity, Gossamurmur, and Jaguar Harmonics, and the anthology Cross Worlds: Transcultural Poetics (Coffee House Press 2014, co-edited with Laura Wright). She is a recipient of a Shelley Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship and is the chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She has been at the forefront of cultural activism and is one of the founders of the Poetry Project at St. Marks Church In-the-Bowery and a co-founder with Allen Ginsberg of the celebrated Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder, the first Buddhist-inspired university in the West. Her work has been published in translation, most recently in French and Finnish.

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired. To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at info@coffeehousepress.org.


“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 Hejinian

“From St. Mark’s in the early sixties, to her stewardship of Naropa to her worldwide 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

“A vatic, versatile display of Waldmania!” —Lawrence Ferlinghetti

“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