All Poets Welcome: The Lower East Side Poetry Scene in the 1960s

By Daniel Kane | Go to book overview

5
Anne Waldman, The World, and the
Early Years at the Poetry Project

Although the meeting ground of the Lower East Side Group was Tulsa, Okla-
homa, it currently centers itself around St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery, and
is united by regularly scheduled readings there, several more-or-less self-
serving publications (of which The World is the most prominent), “Dial-a-Poem”
and other frivolities, and most especially by a worship of the Gospel Accord-
ing to Frank O’Hara.

DAVID LEHMAN, THE WHOLE SCHOOL


The New York School in The World

Anne Waldman was in many ways a natural choice to inherit the director position at the Poetry Project. Born in 1945, brought up in Greenwich Village, and associated with St. Mark’s Church since her early teens, Waldman was part of an intergenerational bohemian milieu that would inform the choices she made as arts director. Her mother, Frances LeFevre, had been involved with the Utopian Delphi Ideal community with her Greek father-in-law, Anghelos Sikelianos (the poet), and her American mother-in-law, choreographer Eval Palmer Sikelianou. Anne Waldman was also introduced to Buddhism in a Quaker high school and had received teachings from a Buddhist lama in 1963. Thus Waldman was introduced to a notion of a “sangha,” or community, that was to resonate in her directorship of the Poetry Project.1 Additionally, Waldman had already worked as editor of a poetry magazine during her student days at Bennington College, where she edited Silo magazine and where she became increasingly familiar with and attached to New York School–affiliated poetry. In the summer of 1965, Waldman attended the legendary Berkeley Poetry Festival, where she met poet Lewis Warsh (whom she would marry and with whom she would edit and publish Angel Hair magazine).

It is especially necessary to bear in mind Waldman’s work as editor when looking at the first few years of the Poetry Project. Such a history, while tak-

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