San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1978. 2nd Edition. 12mo, publisher's photo-illustrated stiff paper wraps.
Inscribed expanded second edition of this landmark collection by acclaimed New York School poet Anne Waldman, member of the Outrider experimental poetry community, friend to the Beats, "spiritual wife" of Allen Ginsberg (his words). The poems were written to be performed aloud, especially the title poem, with its incantatory refrain structure: "I'm a volatile woman / I'm the prodding woman / I'm the vagabond woman / I'm the defiant woman / I'm the demented woman..." It was inspired by Waldman's experimentations with chant, the ritualistic use of hallucinogenic mushrooms, Tibetan Buddhism, and her travels to South America and India. Elsewhere, she has written of the volume: "The poem is a textured energy field or modal structure. The poems for performance seem to manifest as psychological states of mind. They come together in a mental, verbal, physical, and emotional form, making their particular demands on my voice and body. I am the 'energumen.' The poem is the experience." Inscribed by Waldman on the half-title: "for Bill- / 'no way off Mars' / All the best / Anne Waldman / April 1983." We can't be certain, but the recipient may be Bill Berkson, who published many of Waldman's poems in his Bolinas, California-based literary magazine Big Sky, including the poem "Pressure," which appears here and is the source of the phrase quoted in the inscription. Front cover photo by Sheyla Baykal, rear cover photo by Rudy Burckhardt. Originally published in 1975, this second edition is significantly expanded. Minor soiling to wraps, else fine. Item #2232