R.I.P. to Lawrence Ferlinghetti – poet and publisher who took a chance and stood up to censorship lawsuits to publish some of the beat generation’s best and most daring in the 1960s. Publishing Allen Ginsberg’s poetry chapbook ‘Howl’ which was the subject of a groundshaking censorship trial cemented Ferlinghetti as a generous thoughtful leader of belles lettres.
He started City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, a true landmark of literature in the United States that I urge you to visit if you ever get a chance. I checked it out when I happened to be there on a short trip, and that random evening they had some live music. Hopefully it remains a lively spot going forward!
It’s probably one of his more didactic poems but I will share today as a call for other poets to explore his legacy and poems, especially the collection ‘A Coney island of the Mind’ :
What are poets for, in such an age? What is the use of poetry?
The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it.
If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times, even if this meaning sounds apocalyptic.
You are Whitman, you are Poe, you are Mark Twain, you are Emily Dickinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay, you are Neruda and Mayakovsky and Pasolini, you are an American or a non-American, you can conquer the conquerors with words….