Diane Wakoski. Photo by Elsa Dorfmann. Licensed under Creative Commons, courtesy Wikipedia.

Diane Wakoski
Born 1937
Whittier, California, United States
Occupation poet, essayist
Nationality United States American
Genres French surrealism

Diane Wakoski (born August 3, 1937) is a American poet who is primarily associated with the deep image poets, as well as the confessional and Beat poets of the 1960s.[1]


Wakoski was born in Whittier, California. She studied at the University of California, Berkeley, where she met Thom Gunn, Josephine Miles, and Tom Parkinson, and graduated in 1960 with a Bachelor of Arts[2]

Her early writings were considered part of the deep image movement that also included the works of Jerome Rothenberg, Robert Kelly, and Clayton Eshleman, among others. She also cites William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg as influences. Her later work is more personal and conversational in the Williams mode.

She is best known for a series of poems collectively known as "The Motorcycle Betrayal Poems."[1][3]

She received considerable attention in the 1980s for controversial comments linking New Formalism with Reaganism.

Wakoski is married to Sam Otter, and taught creative writing at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, retiring in 2011.[4][5]




  • Coins and Coffins. New York: Hawk's Well Press, 1962.
  •  Four Young Lady Poets (with Rochelle Owens, Barbara Moraff, & Carol Berge; edited by LeRoi Jones). New York: Totem / Corinth, 1962.
  • Dream Sheet. New York: Software Press, 1965.
  • Discrepancies and Apparitions. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1966.
  • The George Washington Poems. New York: Riverrun Press, 1967.
  • The Diamond Merchant. Cambridge, MA: Sans Souci Press, 1968.
  • Inside the Blood Factory. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1968.
  • (With Robert Kelly and Ron Loewinsohn) The Well Wherein a Deer's Head Bleeds: A Play for Winter Solstice. Los Angeles, CA: Black Sparrow, 1968.
  • Greed. Los Angeles, CA: Black Sparrow
    • Parts 1 and 2, 1968
    • Parts 3 and 4, 1969
    • Parts 5, 6, 7, 1971
    • Parts 8, 9, 11, 1973.
  • The Lament of the Lady Bank Dick. Cambridge, MA: Sans Souci Press, 1969.
  • The Moon Has a Complicated Geography. Palo Alto, CA: Odda Tala Press, 1969.
  • Poems. Key Printing Co., 1969.
  • Some Black Poems for the Buddha's Birthday. Pierripont Press, 1969.
  • Thanking My Mother for Piano Lessons. Mount Horeb, WI: Perishable Press, 1969.
  • Love, You Big Fat Snail. San Francisco, CA: Tenth Muse, 1970.
  • Black Dream Ditty for Billy "the Kid" M Seen in Dr. Generosity's Bar Recruiting for Hell's Angels and Black Mafia. Los Angeles, CA: Black Sparrow, 1970.
  • The Wise Men Drawn to Kneel in Wonder at the Fact So of Itself. Los Angeles, CA: Black Sparrow, 1970.
  • The Magellanic Clouds. Los Angeles, CA: Black Sparrow, 1970.
  • On Barbara's Shore. Los Angeles, CA: Black Sparrow, 1971.
  • (Contributor) The Nest. Los Angeles, CA: Black Sparrow, 1971.
  • The Motorcycle Betrayal Poems. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1971.
  • This Water Baby: For Tony. Santa Barbara, CA: Unicorn Press, 1971.
  • Exorcism. Boston: My Dukes, 1971.
  • The Purple Finch Song. Mount Horeb, WI: Perishable Press, 1972.
  • Sometimes a Poet Will Hijack the Moon. Providence, RI: Burning Deck, 1972.
  • Smudging. Los Angeles, CA: Black Sparrow, 1972.
  • The Pumpkin Pie: or, Reassurances Are Always False, Tho We Love Them, Only Physics Counts. Los Angeles, CA: Black Sparrow, 1972.
  • Winter Sequences. Los Angeles, CA: Black Sparrow, 1973.
  • Dancing on the Grave of a Son of a Bitch. Los Angeles, CA: Black Sparrow, 1973.
  • Stilllife: Michael, Silver Flute, and Violets. Storrs, CT: University of Connecticut Library, 1973.
  • The Owl and the Snake: A fable. Mount Horeb, WI: Perishable Press, 1973.
  • (Contributor)  Crowell's Handbook of Contemporary American Poetry (edited by Karl Malkoff). New York: Crowell, 1973.
  • The Wandering Tatler. Mount Horeb, WI: Perishable Press, 1974.
  • Trilogy (includes Coins and Coffins, Discrepancies and Apparitions, & The George Washington Poems). Garden City, NJ: Doubleday, 1974.
  • Looking for the King of Spain.Los Angeles, CA: Black Sparrow, 1974.
  • Abalone. Los Angeles, CA: Black Sparrow, 1974.
  • Virtuoso Literature for Two and Four Hands. Garden City, NJ: Doubleday, 1975.
  • The Fable of the Lion and the Scorpion. Milwaukee, WI: Pentagram Press, 1975.
  • The Laguna Contract of Diane Wakoski. Madison, WI: Crepuscular Press, 1976.
  • George Washington's Camp Cups. Madison, WI: Red Ozier Press, 1976.
  • Waiting for the King of Spain. Santa Barbara, CA: Black Sparrow, 1976.
  • The Last Poem. Santa Barbara, CA: Black Sparrow, 1976.
  • The Ring. Santa Barbara, CA: Black Sparrow, 1977.
  • Spending Christmas with the Man from Receiving at Sears. Santa Barbara, CA:  Black Sparrow, 1977.
  • Overnight Projects with Wood. Madison, WI: Red Ozier Press, 1977.
  • Pachelbel's Canon. Santa Barbara, CA: Black Sparrow, 1978.
  • The Man Who Shook Hands. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1978.
  • Trophies. Santa Barbara, CA: Black Sparrow, 1979.
  • Cap of Darkness (includes Looking for the King of Spain & Pachelbel's Canon). Santa Barbara, CA: Black Sparrow, 1980.
  •  Making a Sacher Torte: Nine poems, twelve illustrations (with Ellen Lanyon). Mount Horeb, WI: Perishable Press, 1981.
  • Saturn's Rings. New York: Targ Editions, 1982.
  • Divers. Barbarian Press, 1982.
  • The Lady Who Drove Me to the Airport. Worcester, MA: Metacom Press, 1982.
  • The Magician's Feastletters.Santa Barbara, CA: Black Sparrow, 1982.
  • The Collected Greed, Parts 1-13. Santa Barbara, CA: Black Sparrow, 1984.
  • The Managed World. New York: Red Ozier Press, 1985.
  • Why My Mother Likes Liberace: A Musical Selection. Tucson, AZ: SUN / Gemini Press, 1985.
  • Celebration of the Rose: For Norman on Christmas Day. Montclair, NJ: Caliban Press, 1987.
  • Roses. Montclair, NJ: Caliban Press, 1987.
  • Husks of Wheat. Northridge, CA: California State University, Northridge Library, 1987.
  • Emerald Ice: Selected poems, 1962-1987. Santa Rosa, CA: Black Sparrow, 1988.
  • Medea the Sorceress. Santa Rosa, CA: Black Sparrow ("Archaeology of Movies and Books" series), 1991.
  • Jason the SailorSanta Rosa, CA: Black Sparrow ("Archaeology of Movies and Books" series), 1993.
  • The Emerald City of Las VegasSanta Rosa, CA: Black Sparrow ("Archaeology of Movies and Books" series), 1995.
  • Argonaut RoseSanta Rosa, CA: Black Sparrow ("Archaeology of Movies and Books" series), 1998.
  • The Butcher's Apron: New and selected poems (including "Greed: Part 14"), Santa Rosa, CA: Black Sparrow, 2000.


  • Form Is an Extension of Content (essay). Los Angeles, CA: Black Sparrow, 1972.
  • Creating a Personal Mythology (essays). Los Angeles, CA: Black Sparrow, 1975.
  • Variations on a Theme (essay). Santa Barbara, CA: Black Sparrow, 1976.
  • (Author of introduction) Barbara Drake, Love at the Egyptian Theatre. East Lansing, MI: Red Cedar Press, 1978.
  • (Author of introduction) Lynne Savitt, Lust in Twenty-eight Flavors. San Francisco, CA: Second Coming Press, 1979.
  • Toward a New Poetry (essays). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1980.
  • Unveilings (photographs by Lynn Stern). New York: Hudson Hill Press, 1989.

Amaryllis (Poem by Diane Wakoski)

Amaryllis (Poem by Diane Wakoski)

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the Poetry Foundation.[6]

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