This week on From the Vault we end April and National Poetry Month with a rare 1969 recording of San Francisco’s poet laureate and first woman poet of the beat movement, Diane di Prima. But first we celebrate what would have Pacifica Radio founder Lewis Hill’s 91st birthday on May 1st with one of the earliest known recordings from Pacifica’s 61 year legacy. In 1949 when Pacifica Radio flagship station KPFA in Berkeley went on the air, Hill ended each day’s broadcast with a poem. He was passionate about poetry and was very much part of his creative contribution to the station. Today’s recording was from those early years, sometime between 1951and 1953. In this recording, Lewis Hill – in perhaps what is one few radio performances by this broadcasting pioneer – pays tribute to poet William Carlos Williams.
Then, we’ll move on to a vintage recording of acclaimed poet Diane di Prima, winner of numerous awards and Poet Laureate of San Francisco. Nearly twelve years after Lew Hill’s death, Radio Free People presented di Prima reading a chapter of an upcoming prose book Blessed are the Meek, Baby, a monologue “Zip Code”, and four-part poem “Canticle of St. Joan”. Recorded in March 1969 at St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery in New York City, this recording, and its subsequent broadcast on Pacifica Radio over forty years ago, proved the success of Lew Hill’s commitment to arts and humanities in public broadcasting.
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