Anne Waldman Interview: Poetry as a Performance

“You’re not a soldier, you’re not a war correspondent, but you’re a field poet. You kind of have to be there as a witness, but you’re translating it. It’s not a literal account.” We had the pleasure of meeting one of the most prominent voices of the Beat Generation, Anne Waldman. In this video, the acclaimed American poet talks about her early inspiration and how performing poetry allows for an embodiment of a state of mind.

“My allegiance was to this more experimental, open, wild mind poetics.” Waldman talks about her early attraction to the poetry of American poet Charles Olson (1910-1970), whom she felt represented a new poetics – a different kind of kinetics of language and “sense of proprioception of this knowledge in the body that’s not maybe intellectual but more instinctive.” This, she continues, was appropriate to her own “energy and sense of continuity and connectivity.” Waldman explains that she likes creating an open structure that allows for other things to occur – mirroring performance: “In performance you never know where it’s going to go, if you feel like the energy is going down, you jump into something else.” In the video, we also get to experience Waldman performing her poetry.

Anne Waldman (b. 1945) is an American poet. She has published more than 40 collections of poetry and poetics including ‘Fast Speaking Woman’ (1975), the multi-volume ‘Iovis’ project (1992, 1993, 1997), ‘Marriage: A Sentence’ (2000), ‘Voice’s Daughter of a Heart Yet to Be Born (2016), and ‘Trickster Feminism’ (2018). Waldman’s poetry mixes different literary forms as well as dance and music, draws on the myths and religions of both West and East, on popular culture, feminist thinking and shamanism. She is an active member of the Outrider experimental poetry community, a culture she has helped create and nurture for over four decades. Waldman is also connected to the Beat movement and the second generation of the New York School. Honours include grants from the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award. For more see:

Anne Waldman was interviewed by Kasper Bech Dyg in August 2019 in connection with the Louisiana Literature festival in Humlebæk, Denmark.

In the video, Waldman reads from ‘Helping the Dreamer’ (1989), ‘Marriage: A Sentence’ (2000), ‘Jaguar Harmonics: A Person Woven of Tesserae’ (2014), and ‘Manatee/Humanity’ (2009).

Camera: Anders Lindved

Produced and edited by Kasper Bech Dyg

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2020

Supported by Nordea-fonden


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