Dear Anne Waldman,

I recently read your poem "Fast Speaking Woman" in class; we also saw you perform your poem, and it was so cool to see. What made you write this poem? What was your inspiration? 

I liked it in your poem when you changed from a "mountain woman" to a "blue mountain woman." When you said "flowers that clean as they go," it made me think of woman having to work on a million different things. It made me realize how many things a woman can be: not just flowers, flowers that clean, but mountains and tundras, jungles and rocks. I am looking forward to reading more of your poetry. What made you want to become a poet? Thank you for writing this poem; it really spoke to me. 


Grade 7
Escondido, CA

April 27, 2016

Dear Lillie,

Thank you for your response to “Fast Speaking Woman”. I have always been inspired by the idea of “shamanism” especially as it relates to poetry and the use of language to move energy forward, and create a kind of healing or re-affirming space. I travelled to South America and India as a young woman and was able to witness some performances and ceremonies that have this kind of purpose: to invoke positive energy. And I was also inspired by Jerome Rothenberg’s Anthology “Shaking The Pumpkin” (and later “Technicians of the Sacred”)  that focuses on this kind of  chanting/writing as ritual events.

I was introduced to the work of Mexican poet Maria Sabina whose own poetry permeates this text. She was a considered a shaman in the Mazatec tradition.

I became a poet because I had a hard time experiencing the “cognitive dissonance” in our world, all the contradictions of war and suffering. And I wanted to make something out of language that was heightened beyond the mundane. I also became very involved with working with other poets in community, early on at the Poetry project in NYC, and later in founding my own school (with the poet Allen Ginsberg at Naropa University in Boulder, Co. I was so happy working with other artists and poets! It becomes a way of life.

I wish you a long life in the enjoyment of poetry!

All the best & warm wishes,

Anne Waldman

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