Diane di Prima, the most prominent woman among the male-dominated Beat poets, who after being immersed in the bohemian swirl of Greenwich Village in the 1950s moved to the West Coast and continued to publish prolifically in a wide range of forms, died on Sunday in San Francisco. She was 86.
Her husband, Sheppard Powell, confirmed her death, at a hospital. She had been living at an elder care home since 2017 because of various health problems, having moved there from the couple’s home in the city’s Excelsior district.
Ms. di Prima was initially known as one of the Beats; she published her first poetry volume, “This Kind of Bird Flies Backward,” i n 1958, two years after Allen Ginsberg’s celebrated “Howl and Other Poems” appeared. It cost 95 cents. Lawrence Ferlinghetti provided the introduction.
“Here’s a sound not heard before,” he wrote. “The voice is gritty. The eye turns. The heart is in it.”