by Patricia Spears Jones
Anne Waldman makes me think of mothers. Mothers of poets. Her mother often came by the Poetry Project when I was working there. She was stylish in a traditional sort of way, but oh not her mind. Not traditional. And yet grounded.
That too is Anne, but she is traditional, or she holds many traditions in her heart and mind. The traditions of poetry: oracular, rhetorical, lyrical. The traditions of spirituality—her Buddhist practice. The traditions of pedagogy: she is always in many ways teaching with her poems, essays, interviews questioning the ways humans treat the planet, treat each other, treat other creatures. She wants us to find the answers and correct these massive injuries and injustices.
And there’s the tradition of festivity, hospitality—the welcomes she gives to all, no matter status. There are few poets on the planet who carry so may ways of being in one glamorous body, but Anne does it, intense, creative, disciplined, generous, compassionate and yet protective, enraged, engaged and demanding that we seek a just and loving world.—the Elder Woman, wise and wise cracking. The Elder Woman stylish and styling. It is grand to be in her presence for there will always be wine, cheer, music, and possibly gossip.
Patricia Spears Jones (www.psjones.com) is an African-American poet, playwight, cultural critic, educator, anthologist, and activist. She is the author of four collections, most recently A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems and five chapbooks. She is the 11th recipient of The Jackson Poetry Prize. She has taught at CUNY, Barnard College, Adelphi University, Hollins University, Naropa University, University of Rhode Island, and Rutgers University.