Friday, May 20, 2011

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

One of my favourite poets is Lawrence Ferlinghetti and not because of his beret.
Better than anything I could write, in tribute to Ferlinghetti, is this article in Guernica. The introduction is pasted below, but click on this link for the full article.

"Aside from being one of the most famous living poets in the United States, Lawrence Ferlinghetti is an erudite publisher, a recognized painter, and lately, he’s a little ticked off at the world. Who can blame him? Fifty years ago he wrote: “I am waiting/ for the American Eagle/ to really spread its wings/ and straighten up and fly right.” Decades later he’s still waiting; it seems no one has heeded his calls for change. With a massive ecological disaster, two costly wars, and an economic depression, he might rightly say I told you so. But who would listen? Poetry hardly draws the audiences that it once did, much less the national poetry tours that Ferlinghetti speaks of.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti with Cuban poet Pablo Armando Fernandez
The ninety-one-year-old began writing poetry and painting sixty years ago, and hasn’t stopped since. He founded one of the oldest and most prestigious independent publishing houses in the United States, City Lights Books, that famously published Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. A friend to Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Gregory Corso, he is often considered the father of the Beats. But he is more than a bookworm. Ferlinghetti was in Nagasaki shortly after it had been obliterated; he was arrested for publishing Howl; he was an American advocate for the Sandinistas and later the Zapatistas. From surrealism, to abstract expressionism, to fluxus, to eco-poetry, Ferlinghetti was there. He was the man, and he suffered, somewhat. Perhaps that’s why he has never been afraid to shake things up, and—as evidenced in this interview—he still isn’t. In fact he made me promise that the political content of our conversation wouldn’t be edited out, something that apparently has happened to him before."

Or click on this link, for a video-wander with Ferlinghetti.

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