March 9, 2023

Diane Ward (USA) 1956


Diane Ward (USA)



Born in Washington, D.C. in 1956, Diane Ward grew up in the Virginia suburbs of that city. She was one of six children, one of whom died in infancy, and in order support his family, her father worked as an accountant for the General Accounting Office of the U.S. government during the day, and in numerous other jobs in the evenings. He died when Ward was 12. Finances became difficult for the family, and Ward’s two brothers dropped out of school. Her mother worked as a seamstress and for a savings and loan institution.


     Ward was determined, however, to become an artist, and enrolled in the Corcoran School of Art, which was then an unaccredited institution. There she began taking art courses and also met Doug Lang and Terence Winch, both of whom taught creative writing. Ward began writing poetry, and with Doug Lang moved into a large house whose other tenants included local poet Bernard Welt. At this time, Lang began a reading series at a local bookstore, Folio, whose guests included John Ashbery, Charles Bernstein, and many others. The series influenced several local poets, including Douglas Messerli, Joan Retallack, Lynne Dreyer and Phyllis Rosenzweig, a curator at the Hirschhorn Museum of Art and Sculpture. But Ward notes that she truly realized that she wanted to become a poet only when, one day, she heard a local Radio Pacifica broadcast in which Peter Inman described what he felt a poet was. By the age of 18, Ward won a National Endowment for the Arts grant for poetry.

     Meanwhile, Lang’s Folio readings had expanded to weekly “workshops,” in which several Washington, D.C. and Baltimore writers read their work to one another. Poets in those workshops included Ward,  Lang, Welt, Rosenzweig, Dreyer, Retallack, Messerli, Tina Darragh, Julie Brown, Anselm Hollo, Kirby Malone, Chris Mason, Marshall Reese, and others.

     Although influenced, in part, by writers associated at the time with New York School poetry such as Bernadette Mayer and Clark Coolidge, Ward notes that she was most influenced by Gertrude Stein and conceptual artist of the period. “I realized that poetry could be like drawing, it could be thinking itself, a conceptual activity, and not just an end product.”

     The loss of the communal house and the closing of the Folio bookshop brought an end to this important D.C. group; and, ultimately, Ward moved with a young artist friend to New York City in 1979. There she worked as a freelance typesetter, and helped with distribution and production for Roof Books, one of the major sources of “Language” poetry, edited by James Sherry. While working on the night shift at a typesetting house near Union Square, she met Chris Hauty, the man she would later marry. Hauty also wanted to be a poet, but writing plays and reviewing scripts, he begin to focus more heavily on film, and turned to writing film scripts and, later, fiction.

     Meanwhile, Ward took a job as a production associate at Pantheon books in 1982. In 1987 she moved with Hauty to Los Angeles, where they had two children, George and Jackson. Hauty began working for various film studios, and Ward worked for a while at the University of California Los Angeles, before turning her attention full time to motherhood.

     Through all these years she still found time to devote herself to poetry, writing nine books of poetry and editing, with Phyllis Rosenzweig, a journal published in various forms—fliers, postcards, etc. She has also extensively participated in readings throughout the country.

      Hauty and Ward divorced, and Ward moved for a period to northern California, before returning in live in Los Angeles.



                               from left to right, standing: Tan Wanveer, Diane Ward, Terence Winch,

                                       Susan Campbell from l to r, sitting: Phyllis Rosenzweig, Bernard Welt,

                                       Doug Lang, Becky Levenson ca. 1981 in Terence Winch's apartment




On Duke Ellington’s Birthday (Washington, D.C.: self-published); Trop-i-dom (Washington, D.C.: Jawbone, 1977); The Light American (Washington, D.C.: Jawbone, 1979); Theory of Emotion (New York: Segue/O Press, 1979); Never without One (New York: Roof, 1984); Relation (New York: Roof, 1989); Human Ceiling (New York: Roof, 1995); Imaginary Movie (Elmwood, Connecticut: Potes & Poets Press, 1992); Exhibition (Elmwood, Connecticut: Potes & Poets Press, 1995); Portraits and Maps [with art by Michael C. McMillen] (Piacenza, Italy: ML&NLF, 2000); Portrait As If Through My Own Voice (Studio City, California: Margin to Margin, 2001); Flim-Yoked Scrim (San Diego: Factory School, 2006); No List (No List) (Los Angeles: Seeing Eye Books, 2008); Belladonna Elders Series No. I: Jane Sprague / Tina Darragh / Diane Ward (New York: Belladonna, 2009)


Naming the Baby


scared it will clutch green

be unreachable across flow

violent as Columbus

we can’t do anything, it feels

awe between storm-dressed death

compares life to

man, an X-shaped resistance

but nothing was done

for man an X-shaped

nonmilitary face

as if the end is composed of brick-like desire

worst suspicions

do you name it as you see it


or as you witnessed it


humane and raw as in a fine-looking founding

including circulating rumors

holder of the heel

unrequited wall across the sea

would be grateful if any of our friends

our collective aerial capacity

as we drive and conduct ourselves

to be a strong champ of digit theory

to be concerned about behavior’s

opponent begins with wood, the wide element

deforested, as much dollars a day

as a month of Sundays

people out there who do not wish us

indeterminate intention of heaven’s outstretched hand

birth month, when a rocket was fired

coiled mass of bar codes spell out ‘emperor’

hunters, hoping their darling

defeats unbound dread

most dangerous is out of place

succor annihilated so he prowls

ask what I am doing, who am I

hides humanity

five children, but I can’t make Saint

that first bloom of love

haunted by day-to-day extreme

point weapons at residents

defend the pearly turnstile

urgent issue behaviors will allow

the darling to defeat unbound dread

and our children in our streets

as they ran alongside the convoys

oh, prosperous spear

I’m worried we will be hit

awe between rehearsed death

get into our homes

our businesses’ succor annihilated, we prowl in place

fed up with the barriers

indeterminate intention of heaven’s outstretched hand

reason to maintain strong


instead, a street in the middle

encircled by glory

talks into its radios and peers


we seemed lethal in our quaking

our supreme subsistence

immaculate, simple

choices we too might make

many child soldiers act manly

both prevail in a harsh world

Like him: penniless, defenseless

A darling who defeats the unbound dread

Of weary acceptance, “what can I

indeterminate intention of heaven’s outstretched hand

Use a bag printed with cartoon figures

Grown in the same way, the same root as man

“victory people” left us history

we both prevail in a harsh world

the least seven people living on the

strong stumps of digit theory

vagrants and beggars too late

for the Prosperous spear

“victory people” left only the vaguest concrete history

Grown in the same way, the same root as man

Shock and sorrow with the arrest

can we hide a human

cut deep across class

during the day but deserted at night

unreachable across flow

violent as Columbus

jaded by reports of violent crime

meaning carried by the wind

demanded answers

ability to succor annihilated, we prowl out of place

have never been seen before

the same way, the same root as man

a symbol of both

There does not appear to be any

“Darling” who defeats unbound dread

though “social cleansing”—perhaps

Haunted by day-to-day extreme

Child, love the Group that provides protection


“victory people” left only a hazy

silence, indeterminate intention

of heaven’s outstretched

literary hands: who makes choices

to continue an X-shaped resistance

on sidewalks where so many

remain in the streets

darlings who defeat unbound dread

our name veers to cut across classes

world oh might!: a familiar archetype across the years

no plans to unclaw the green

to thwart the violent flow

down on a hard luck


as Columbus

“If you die, you die,” says Displacer

encircled by glory


between death

Displacer, defend the pearly turnstile

Its wily objects

of consumed confidence

will end up in a pile

of desire

delivery devices



Reprinted from The New Review of Literature, II, no. 2 (April 2005). Copyright ©2005 by Diane Ward.

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