This “syncopated woman” is an iconic poet-mystic-activist-Buddhist-feminist-teacher who possesses the uncanny (and magical) ability to “Write down the noun's shadow.” Among a million other things, she still teaches at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, which she co-founded with Allen Ginsberg, meditation scholar Chogyam Trungpa and others. As much as we admire her environmental and social activism (she was an early protester against the Rocky Flats nuclear-weapons factory in Colorado) and the breadth of her creative collaborations (she's worked with jazz man Don Cherry and artists like George Schneeman), we really love her playfully enchanting, incantational poetry. She's got a good heart, worries about how we're riding on a “scorched galactic cinder” and can see between the wor(l)ds. For all of her fire (“Vote apocalyptic/& you will get your war”) and spiritual discipline, Waldman also has a disarmingly sensual, down-to-earth side: “The mouth is a wild wicked deity … a kiss, one thigh against another, more crazy mutterings … Sparks fly out the throat up the page — seeds of future poetic fire.” Tonight, this “fast talking woman,” who admittedly can't control her “displays of heart & tongue,” throws herself into an adventurously poetic/scientific performance of her latest work, Manatee/Humanity, where she explores “the nuances of interspecies communication and compassion.” (It's about time those damn manatees showed us they care.)

Tue., May 5, 7 p.m., 2009

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