The The Emerald City of Las Vegas:

Archaeology of Movies and Books: Volume 3

Dedicated to America’s mythic city, Diane Wakoski discusses risk, betrayal, and history in this third volume of Archaeology of Movies and Books. Wakoski skillfully weaves together pieces of fragmented memory among images of Las Vegas casinos and the green splendor of Oz with its magical shoes.

Praise for Emerald City 

Her free-verse proclamations and search for mythic meaning in modern America bring her close to the Beat musings of Orlovsky and Ginsberg. Like them she has the true poet’s ego and often mistakes the world for her part of it: “Does that mean the history of the sky/is a reflection of the way my mind works?” She is never one to hesitate for exactitude in language or to apply the blue pencil; her best insights have a way of turning into long complaints or talky open letters, but, like good jazz improvisers, she often happens into a surprising chord of clear beauty, as in “Tea Ceremony”: “The blue jay/swaying on the head/of a sunflower/jabbing at seeds/as he swings.” A representative volume from an important figure in contemporary poetry.
The Library Journal

Wakoski, approaching 60, inspects her changing body and does not flinch. She continues to forgo the complex imagery of her earlier work in favor of a conversational, confessional style. In this, the third volume in her The Archaeology of Movies and Books series, she seeks a way for a personal mythology to make sense of fractured, postmodern America. In “Looking for Beethoven in Las Vegas,” she writes: “Driving West,/ old, enlightened,/ I still cannot fold up those/ maps of lost goldmines,/ abandoned trunks full of diamonds,/ of new countries and other planets.” Nevertheless, the spiritual locale of these poems is the anti-Oz?no place for Dorothy or illusions about one’s self. Into her reflections as a “regular” in Las Vegas, Wakoski weaves quotes from Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, Nick Herbert’s Quantum Reality and other snatches of text. The result is a close look at the poet’s own inner conversation about what it means to be a woman, to be no longer young, to be a poet. Her presence in the best of these poems allows us to ask, with her: “what/ does it mean to/ control the images/ in your life,” when those images are often disturbing or incoherent.
Publishers Weekly

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.[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, 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.