Civil Disobediences

An anthology edited by Anne Waldman and Lisa Birman

June 1, 2004 • 6.5 x 9.75 • 425 pages • 978-1-56689-158-5

With incisive energy, wit, and wisdom, these powerful essays explore the intersection between poetry and politics.

As art’s role in engaging society and coalescing dissent becomes more apparent and more urgent, Civil Disobediences offers a manual for understanding poetry’s history and enacting its ultimate power to dismantle and recreate political and cultural realities. Composed of essays, lectures, and teaching materials by leading Beat and contemporary poets and scholars, this anthology explores the craft of poetry as well as the history of poetic/political action in the U.S. and abroad, the development of ancient and modern poetic forms, the legacy of world-renowned poets, and the intersections between poetry and spirituality. It also provides concrete advice about bringing poetry into your local community and ensuring that “poetry is news that stays news.”

Contributors include:

Helen Adam • Ammiel Alcalay • Amiri Baraka • Ted Berrigan • Robin Blaser • Reed Bye • Jack Collum • Robert Creeley • Samuel R. Delany • Robert Duncan • Lawrence Ferlinghetti • Alan Gilbert • Allen Ginsberg • James Grauerholtz • Barbara Guest • Bobbie Louise Hawkins • Anselm Hollo • Laird Hunt • Pierre Joris • Joanne Kyger • Eileen Myles • Alice Notley • Michael Ondaatje • Sonia Sanchez • Edward Sanders • Eleni Sikelianos • Gary Snyder • Cole Swenson • Arthur Sze • Steven Taylor • Robert Tejada • Lorenzo Thomas • and more.

About the Author

Anne Waldman is an internationally renowned poet, performer, and Distinguished Professor of Poetics at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. She is the co-editor of Civil Disobediences: Poetics and Politics in Action and the author of over forty books, including In the Room of Never Grieve and Vow to Poetry: Essays, Interviews, & Manifestos.

Lisa Birman has been teaching writing for the past ten years in the United States, Australia and the Czech Republic. She is the author of For That Return Passage—a Valentine for the United States of America, and co-editor with Anne Waldman of the anthology Civil Disobediences: Poetics and Politics in Action, and has published several chapbooks of poetry, including O–A Conversation and deportation poems. Her work has appeared in Milk Poetry Magazine, Tarpaulin Sky, Trickhouse, Poetry Project Newsletter, thuggery & grace, 26, admit2, Bombay Gin, and not enough night. Lisa works as a content editor, copyeditor, and proofreader. She is also the Director of the Summer Writing Program at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, where she teaches for the MFA in Creative Writing.


“A valuable and inspiring collection that explores the cross sections of culture and politics and the art of dissent.” —David Barsamian

“Here, finally, is a book I can teach year after year without fear of its becoming dated. The intense pursuit and practice of poetry at Naropa University is astonishingly fresh and alive in this collection by the crème-de-la-crème of the avant-garde. Students, poets, and, for that matter, anybody interested in ideas can spend a useful eon dreaming herein. As my old master, Ted Berrigan, says ‘You can to be true, and you owe everything to your feelings, and you have to make sure you get them right.’ This book doesn’t just get them right, it puts them to work in the fantastic universe, in gorgeously erudite, playful, and painful explorings.” —Andrei Codrescu

“This is a book one can feast on, an exciting collection of poetry, ponderings, interviews, reminiscences, by a brilliant assemblage, including Allen Ginsberg, Michael Ondaatje, Amiri Baraka. The extraordinary piece by Sonia Sanchez and Ed Sander’s ‘A Tribute to Sappho’ are alone worth the price of admission.” —Howard Zinn

“Here is the true Department of Peace. Intellectual thought and devotion to poetry as activist goodwill. Prayers for the warmongers.” —Thurston Moore