Buddhist Ruminations is the latest publication from Shivastan Press. It is a collection of 20 poems by Diane di Prima, who passed away three years ago this month.
This chapbook was printed in Kathmandu, Nepal, on handmade lokta paper and is a limited edition of 500 copies. It is beautifully illustrated and has an introduction by Anne Waldman.
As the title suggests, these poems are about Buddhism. They document the poet’s studies and struggles and doubts and devotion. They deal with the difficulties of sitting and linguistic frustrations, and discuss her worries over failing her students. She writes:
what is it but the ancient dreams
of wild ones in the mountain?
Elsewhere, in an amusing poem, she compares Philip Whalen to a boa constrictor, “lying in bed after a big meal / too tired to do anything but digest.” It is witty and perceptive, a poetic gem.
In another poem, she ponders what she should do with a broadside. She cannot send it to Tim Leary as he is dead. She cannot send it to Allen Ginsberg, either, for the same reason. Even if she could, he would “sit up half the night / ‘correcting’ it although I never asked.” Nor can she send it to Gregory Corso “who’d argue / the finer points of the Odyssey while he hit me up / for my codeine. Or sex.” The poem is witty but depressing as she notes how many of her friends have passed.
The book can be ordered directly from the publisher. I believe there are also copies on sale at City Lights in San Francisco. Shivastan Press, founded by Shiv Mirabito in 1997, has previously published work by Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Anne Waldman, Henri Michaux, Ira Cohen, and Ed Sanders.