Diane Wakoski is an American poet. Wakoski is primarily associated with the deep image poets, as well as the confessional and Beat poets of the 1960s. She received considerable attention in the 1980s for controversial comments linking New Formalism with Reaganism
Wakoski was born in Whittier, California and studied at the University of California, Berkeley and graduated in 1960 with a Bachelor of Arts, where she participated in Thom Gunn’s poetry workshops. It was there that she first read many of the modernist poets who would influence her writing style. 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, Allen Ginsberg and Charles Bukowski as influences. Her poetry career began in New York City, where she moved with La Monte Young in 1960, and lived until 1973. Her later work is more personal and conversational in the Williams mode. Wakoski is married to the photographer Robert Turney, and is University Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.Wakoski’s literary works have been recognized and highlighted at Michigan State University in their Michigan Writers Series.
Her work has been published in more than twenty collections and many slim volumes of poetry. Her selected poems, Emerald Ice, won the William Carlos Williams Prize from the Poetry Society of America in 1989. She is best known for a series of poems collectively known as “The Motorcycle Betrayal Poems.” Many of her books have been published in fine editions by Black Sparrow Press.