This week, Shelby Miller ’18 is finishing an exhibition in University of Lynchburg’s Daura Gallery titled “The Life and Impact of Diane di Prima.”
Di Prima is a feminist beat poet, teacher, artist, playwright, and social justice activist. Her poetry combines stream-of-consciousness with politics and spiritual aspects. Di Prima has authored more than four dozen books and she has received many awards for her work.
Some of her work that will be presented in the exhibit includes “This Kind of Bird Flies Backward,” The Floating Bear,” and “Memoirs of a Beatnik.”
The exhibition will open Thursday, April 5, at 4 p.m. Miller will read some of di Prima’s poetry and some of her own at 4:45 p.m. Refreshments will be served.
Miller is using this project for both her Westover Honors thesis and her senior capstone project. Her thesis is focused on a critical analysis of Di Prima’s writings and her capstone incorporates all three disciplines to her self-designed major: creative writing, gender studies, and museum studies.
Di Prima was a fascinating subject from a gender-studies perspective because of her feminist poetry, “and the dynamics between her and the male beat poets,” Miller said. Curating the exhibition applies skills she has learned in museum studies, and from the creative writing perspective, di Prima’s poetry is ripe for analysis — and imitation. “I’ve also been writing my own poetry based on her poetry,” Miller said.
Her work at University of Lynchburg has prepared Miller for this project in more ways than one. A year ago, one of her classes curated an exhibition of Papua New Guinea art and aboriginal Australion art. “This is also my second year as a Daura Gallery employee, so I’ve been at the ground level of a lot of hanging and installations, and I’ve really been doing a lot of this already even if I wasn’t necessarily curating.”
The exhibit will remain up until the end of the school year. This event is free and open to the public.