Lisa Jarnot and Anne Waldman in Boulder, Colo., circa 1999.
by Lisa Jarnot
I have a postcard somewhere that Anne sent me around 1996. I was no doubt caught up in a messy romantic drama and in need of the mantra that arrived that day in her flowing luminous script: “You are not a wounded animal!” From the beginning she sought me out. “Why me?” I thought when she called one afternoon and said “A few people are going to Allen’s loft tonight; I thought you might want to come with me.” We had borscht on 1st Avenue, picked up a bouquet of tiger lilies, and made our way to 14th Street where “a few people” was me, Anne, Allen, and Peter Orlovsky.
I’m thinking of a night many years ago at The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. A friend and I had written a rock opera and cast Anne as a villainess, a capitalist evil stepmother of sorts. We were delighted (and a little bit surprised) that she was game for singing a parody of Fast Speaking Woman that we’d morphed into a blood-thirsty earth-despoiling rant. Anne arrived at the theater disheveled. She’d gotten into a fender-bender on the way and had waved off the police with the exclamation, “I’m due onstage!”
Alongside that Triple Aries passion was a patience I sometimes took for granted. When I did stupid things, she never judged, and she discouraged me from judging. I hear her saying things that make me flinch: “I know you have your history with so-and-so but I hope you can forgive and get along.”
Anne gently re-framed me. The wounded animal became the resident Duncan scholar, the strong woman poet, the activist rebel, the mother, the preacher. Anne saying, “I’m so proud of you”—that is on my mind today—as are all the phone calls, letters, texts, handmade books, collages, dinners, tea dates, New Year’s Eve parties! A blueprint for abundant friendship? That’s the gift that Anne has crafted for me during these 25 years.