Skip to content

Reflections of a working writer and reader



Two Beat Poets

“There were women, they were there, I knew them, their families put them in institutions, they were given electric shock. In the ’50s if you were male you could be a rebel, but if you were female your families had you locked up. There were cases, I knew them, someday someone will write about them.” Gregory Corso

Diane Di Prima

Diane Di Prima

Diane Di Prima is a radical American poet. She is the author of 43 books of poetry and prose.

Chronology by Diane Di Prima

I loved you in October
when you hid behind your hair
and rode your shadow
in the corners of the house

and in November you invaded
filling the air
above my bed with dreams
cries for some kind of help
on my inner ear

in December I held your hands
one afternoon; the light failed
it came back on
in a dawn on the Scottish coast
you singing us ashore

now it is January, you are fading
into your double
jewels on his cape, your shadow on the snow,
you slide away on wind, the crystal air
carries your new songs in snatches thru the windows
of our sad, high, pretty rooms

The following is believed to be the last poem of Elise Cowen. When she was twenty-eight she took her own life by jumping through a closed seventh-story-window in her parents’ home in Washington Heights, New York.

Elise Cowen

Elise Cowen

No love

No compassion

No intelligence

No beauty

No humility

Twenty-seven years is enough

Mother — too late — years of meanness — I’m sorry

Daddy — What happened?

Allen — I’m sorry

Peter — Holy Rose Youth

Betty — Such womanly bravery

Keith — Thank you

Joyce — So girl beautiful

Howard — Baby take care

Leo — Open the windows and Shalom

Carol — Let it happen

Let me out now please —
— Please let me in

7 Responses to “Two Beat Poets”

  1. Dick says:

    Two favourites of old and a re-acquaintance with the tragic Elise Cowen. A great pic of her too. Is it one of Fred McDowell’s?

  2. john baker says:

    Dunno who took the photograph. It’s a bit special.

  3. Sissy says:

    That photo is not Elise Cowen it is Merle Molofsky, Miss Beatnik 1958…nice image, though

  4. john baker says:

    There is a photograph of Elise Cowan with Allen Ginsburg, together with more details of her life.

  5. The photograph is of me at age 16, at the Gaslight Cafe, 1959. My poetry is not well known, but if you would like to read more than 50 years of poetry by the girl who was Miss Beatnik and the woman who is now 69 years old and a licensed psychoanalyst, go to the lulu website. My two volumes of poetry are called Mad Crazy Love: Love Poems and Mad Songs, with an introduction by Paul Cooper; and Ladder of Words.with an introduction by Lawrence LeShan. I read my poetry at poetry readings at the Gaslight Cafe when I was 16 years old. A few years ago I was a featured poet at the Medicine Show Theatre 26th annual reading series, Word/Play.

  6. john baker says:

    Welcome to the site, Merle; and thanks for the update.

  7. Daniel Heller says:

    Elise Cowen, I knew her when I was in high school. That was 1944-46. We had a group, keen on folk songs. The group was 1 or 2 dozen. She was nice, she was quiet. Elise was not popular in that she was not a leader. She was at the fringes. We all liked her. I was so sorry when I heard she had committed suicde. I met her parents once at her house. It is odd but her father is so clear in my memory: big, strong, gentle, warm.