The Poetry Deal: A Film with Diane di Prima

A film by Melanie La Rosa

US | 2011 | 27 minutes | Color | DVD | English | Order No. 121074


She remains the most famous woman poet of the Beat Generation; her friend Allen Ginsberg called her “heroic in life and poetics.” THE POETRY DEAL is an impressionistic documentary about legendary poet Diane di Prima. Still actively writing in her late 70s in San Francisco, where she is poet laureate, di Prima is fierce, funny and philosophical. She is a pioneer who broke boundaries of class and gender to publish her writing, and THE POETRY DEAL opens a window looking back through more than 50 years of poetry, activism, and cultural change, providing a unique women’s perspective of the Beat movement. Much of the story is told through di Prima’s recorded readings, including a deeply moving reading of her unpublished poem The Poetry Deal, reflecting on her relationship with her art. Essential for women’s studies, poetry studies, women’s history courses and more, THE POETRY DEAL puts di Prima’s life and work on screen in a unique, beautiful portrait using rare archival footage, impressionistic scenes and powerful stories told by friends and colleagues.


"In just 27 minutes, The Poetry Deal brings into clear view the strong determination and e’lan vital of this remarkable poet."

Ingrid Swanberg Feminist Collections

“[V]isually powerful and provocative, and a tribute to this unique poet’s transformative alchemy as thinker, visionary, and trail-blazer. I highly recommend this documentary to literary scholars, students, writers and anyone interested in the culture of these complicated times.”

Anne Waldman, Poet Co-founder, Distinguished Prof, Jack Kerouac School, Naropa Univ.

“The film is a visual poem -- a great way to experience DiPrima direct."

Bob Holman, Bowery Poetry Club Endangered Language Alliance Visiting Professor of Writing


  • Michigan Womyns Music Festival


Melanie La Rosa

Melanie is an award-winning filmmaker, producer, and educator. Her documentaries focus on social issue stories and have generated critical acclaim and applause at human rights festivals and organizations. These include: Sir: Just A Normal Guy (2001), which was reviewed as a sensitive first-person portrait of a widely misunderstood area of human experience; and The Poetry Deal: a film with Diane di Prima (2011), which was released to acclaim as a rare glimpse into this avant-garde poet's storied life. Both films have screened nationally and internationally, and are in wide educational distribution. Sir: Just A Normal Guy won two awards and The Poetry Deal has been widely cited in literary and scholarly research.

Melanie's films have been recognized with grants from the New York State Arts Council, the Eastman Fund, the Brooklyn Arts Council, The Puffin Foundation, The Yip Harburg Foundation, the Solutions Journalism Project, the IFP Project Involve, and a residency at the Starry Night artist retreat. Her celebratory video about the historical importance of LGBTQ literature, made for the Lambda Literary Awards, was featured to outstanding reviews on (7/19)

Beyond her own filmmaking, Melanie also worked for Emmy- and Peabody-award winning journalist Maria Hinojosa at Futuro Media Group, as a Special Projects Producer, creating multi-platform media events for the NPR show “Latino USA” and the PBS series “America By The Numbers with Maria Hinojosa.”

Melanie is an Assistant Professor teaching film and media production at Pace University. She grew up in Lansing, Michigan, and lives in New York City.


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