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An Encounter with Beat Poetry

Peppers and Anchovies Mediterranean Style 1

By Tim Hazell

Beat, jazz, and slam poets are products of urban environments of stainless steel and glass, cantilevered structures, strident traffic, sirens, and street vendors. Alan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs reshaped their poetic language in the midst of multi-media saturation and neon glitz. Thinly concealed beneath the veneer of 1950s urban progress, the plight of Hispanic-Americans cried out for recognition and these writers and others, though not Hispanics themselves, identified with the poverty of the ghettos amidst the boom of technological advance and blind confidence of the middle class in a glowing future. Hispanic-Americans brought noteworthy cultural perspectives to their daily lives. Beat poets gave them a forum, strident voices, and pride in their roots. A younger generation assimilated their rhetoric and uncompromising attitudes, becoming pro-active social entrepreneurs for America’s burgeoning Latino populations.

Diane Di Prima is one of a few female Beat writers of prominence. She was born in New York City on August 6, 1934, and settled in Greenwich Village, living the “bohemian lifestyle” that typified the Beat movement. Her first book of poetry, “This Kind of Bird Flies Backward,” was published in 1958. Active as a leading promoter of contemporary poets of her time, Di Prima founded a monthly periodical featuring the work of her collaborator, Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), showcasing their work and that of many other notable Beats. She was also the originator of two publishing houses that focused on the verse of avant-garde poets—The Poets Press and Eidolon Editions. Her work reflects political and social struggle and an abiding interest in female archetypes.


“The Window”

you are my bread

and the hairline noise

of my bones

you are almost

the sea

you are not stone

or molten sound

I think

you have no hands

this kind of bird flies backwards

and this love breaks on a windowpane

where no light talks


Ethnic neighborhoods demanded ingredients with strong flavor contrasts, adding color and zest to America’s markets and cuisines. Here is an appetizer that makes a meal in itself, served with Mexican bolillos or rounds of crusty French-style bread, a full-bodied red wine, and scintillating conversation. It also sets up appetites for a more elaborate dining experience!


Peppers and Anchovies Mediterranean Style



1 pound red and/or yellow sweet bell peppers

3 tbsp. olive oil

1-2 oz. can flat anchovies

2 tbsp. drained capers

1 tsp. oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 to 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tbsp. finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

Rounds of crusty baguette-style bread or bolillos

Lemon wedges



Core and seed the peppers and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch strips. Heat oil in a heavy skillet and add peppers. Cook, shaking and stirring for about two minutes. Drain and chop the anchovies. Add to the peppers. Add capers, oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic. Cook, shaking and stirring for another two minutes. Sprinkle with wine vinegar and remove from heat. Garnish with parsley. Serve with crusty bread rounds and lemon wedges.




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