Lawrence Ferlinghetti - book author
A prominent voice of the wide-open poetry movement that began in the 1950s, Lawrence Ferlinghetti has written poetry, translation, fiction, theater, art criticism, film narration, and essays. Often concerned with politics and social issues, Ferlinghetti’s poetry countered the literary elite's definition of art and the artist's role in the world. Though imbued with the commonplace, his poetry cannot be simply described as polemic or personal protest, for it stands on his craftsmanship, thematics, and grounding in tradition.
Ferlinghetti was born in Yonkers in 1919, son of Carlo Ferlinghetti who was from the province of Brescia and Clemence Albertine Mendes-Monsanto. Following his undergraduate years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he served in the U.S. Navy in World War II as a ship's commander. He received a Master’s degree from Columbia University in 1947 and a Doctorate de l’Université de Paris (Sorbonne) in 1950. From 1951 to 1953, when he settled in San Francisco, he taught French in an adult education program, painted, and wrote art criticism. In 1953, with Peter D. Martin, he founded City Lights Bookstore, the first all-paperbound bookshop in the country, and by 1955 he had launched the City Lights publishing house.
The bookstore has served for half a century as a meeting place for writers, artists, and intellectuals. City Lights Publishers began with the Pocket Poets Series, through which Ferlinghetti aimed to create an international, dissident ferment. His publication of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl & Other Poems in 1956 led to his arrest on obscenity charges, and the trial that followed drew national attention to the San Francisco Renaissance and Beat movement writers. (He was overwhelmingly supported by prestigious literary and academic figures, and was acquitted.) This landmark First Amendment case established a legal precedent for the publication of controversial work with redeeming social importance.
Ferlinghetti’s paintings have been shown at various galleries around the world, from the Butler Museum of American Painting to Il Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome. He has been associated with the international Fluxus movement through the Archivio Francesco Conz in Verona. He has toured Italy, giving poetry readings in Roma, Napoli, Bologna, Firenze, Milano, Verona, Brescia, Cagliari, Torino, Venezia, and Sicilia. He won the Premio Taormino in 1973, and since then has been awarded the Premio Camaiore, the Premio Flaiano, the Premio Cavour. among others. He is published in Italy by Oscar Mondadori, City Lights Italia, and Minimum Fax. He was instrumental in arranging extensive poetry tours in Italy produced by City Lights Italia in Firenze. He has translated from the Italian Pier Paolo Pasolin’s Poemi Romani, which is published by City Lights Books. In San Francisco, his work can regularly be seen at the George Krevsky Gallery at 77 Geary Street.
Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind continues to be the most popular poetry book in the U.S. It has been translated into nine languages, and there are nearly 1,000,000 copies in print. The author of poetry, plays, fiction, art criticism, and essays, he has a dozen books currently in print in the U.S., and his work has been translated in many countries and in many languages. His most recent books are A Far Rockaway of the Heart (1997), How to Paint Sunlight (2001), and Americus Book I (2004) published by New Directions.
He has been the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Los Angeles Times’ Robert Kirsch Award, the BABRA Award for Lifetime Achievement, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Award for Contribution to American Arts and Letters, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award. Ferlinghetti was named San Francisco’s Poet Laureate in August 1998.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti is the author of books: A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems, Pictures of the Gone World, Poetry as Insurgent Art, City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology, A Far Rockaway of the Heart, Her, Starting from San Francisco, These are My Rivers: New Selected Poems 1955-1993, Wild Dreams of a New Beginning, San Francisco Poems
It was Lawrence Ferlinghetti's first book, and it has been reprinted twenty-one times, having never been out of print. The original edition contained the first twenty-seven poems to which the author has now added eighteen new verses.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and founder of City Lights Books, author of A Coney Island of the Mind and Pictures of the Gone World, among numerous other books, has been drawing from life since his student days in Paris where he frequented the Academie Julien and where he did his first oil painting.
From the introduction by Lawrence Ferlinghetti:
“Even though some say that an avant-garde in literature no longer exists, the smaller independent publisher is itself still a true avant-garde, its place still out there, scouting the unknown . . . From the beginning, the aim was to publish across the board, avoiding the provincial and the academic . . . I had in mind rather an international, dissident, insurgent ferment . . .”
Includes poetry by:
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kenneth Rexroth, Kenneth Patchen, Allen Ginsberg, Marie Ponsot, Denise Levertov, Gregory Corso, Jacques Prévert, Robert Duncan, Jerome Rothenberg, Nicanor Parra, Robert Nichols, Anselm Hollo, Malcolm Lowry, Frank O’Hara, Philip Lamantia, Bob Kaufman, Janine Pommy-Vega, Charles Upton, Pablo Picasso, Robert Bly, Diane di Prima, Jack Kerouac, Andrei Voznesensky, Pete Winslow, Harold Norse, Anne Waldman, Jack Hirschman, Stefan Brect, Peter Orlovsky, Antler, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ernesto Cardenal, Antonio Porta, Adam Cornford, La Loca, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Daisy Zamora, Rosario Murillo, and Alberto Blanco.
Being thus very far from the kind of novels produced by Ferlinghetti's immediate contemporaries (whether Beat or academic) this book has met with little but bafflement among American critics. With well over 50,000 now in print Her nevertheless continues to make its own way.
Who Are We Now? (1976), the first half of Wild Dreams, takes a long poetic look at the cultural fallout of a more radical time. This probing of the changes in the American psyche through the 1970s is carried forward in the second part, Landscapes of Living Dying (1979)—a work originally hailed by Library Journal as "Ferlinghetti's strongest work since his 1957 A Coney Island of the Mind. . . . [He] pursues his disheveled muse with the innocent passion of a young beatnik, hiding his authentic erudition behind a comfortable guise of spontaneous composition."
Lawrence Ferlinghetti is a bookman, painter and author of poetry, fiction, essays and plays. His most recent books are How to Paint Sunlight (poetry) and Love in the Days of Rage (fiction).