The Floating Bear Family



The cover of Floating Bear 30 features the inspired artwork of Diane di Prima;s six year old daughter Jeannie.  I love the idea of di Prima giving Jeannie a blank stencil and a stylus at the kitchen table at 35 Cooper Square.  This is the Mimeo Revolution equivalent of giving your kid a box of crayons as a pacifier.  What I like even more is that di Prima seemingly had Jeannie address the issues for mailing.  I wonder if that is really what is going on above or did di Prima fake Jeannie's handwriting?  The idea of Jeannie addressing 300-500 copies of Floating Bear sounds like a Mimeo Revolution sweatshop.  In either case, Issue 30 conjures up concepts of childlike innocence and perception which Revolution poets tried to capture as well as establishing an alternative domesticity, the underground as communal family in contrast to the traditional nuclear unit of the Fifties.  The American Theatre for Poets, headquartered out of di Prima's apartment, served as an alternative family as well.  This is not Ozzie and Harriet or the Cleavers.  Di Prima is no Donna Reed. Her memoir makes this clear.

Leroi Jones left the Floating Bear family after issue 25.  I find these later issues to be much more funky and fun.  Like a crazy gathering around the holidays.  Think the cover of Issue 28, with Santa on the toilet, which documented and poked fun at the whole underground.  Maybe it is all the crazy uncles di Prima let edit the magazine.  Issue 30 and its cover is a perfect example of what I find endearing about the post-Jones era.

JB

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