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Happy Birthday to Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Lawrence Ferlinghetti


On this date in 1919 Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poetic patriarch and premier promoter of Innovative and radical poets everywhere, was born in New York. His City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco has been the Mecca for everybody interested in poetry and insurgent literature since the 1950s and is still going strong.

I have been publishing several posts early on in The Scene based on Seymour Krim’s 1960 anthology of the Beat Movement. Before each Beat writer that Krim featured he wrote a short profile. What’s so fascinating about Krim and his little book is that it was written and published when the Beatnik culture was dominating America’s 1950s. So he writes from the perspective of the moment and with the crazy Beatnik vernacular that often was fodder for cartoons, satire, and ultimately Hollywood movies.


“Ferlinghetti is a shaker and mover via his City Lights Bookshop in Frisco; hot as a poet now, with a wild and subtle personal music and nutty surrealist surprises. Many colored lights in his work, in himself. To hear him read his own work is an experience; he’s fresh and important, in on the beat and helping make it country-wide. A center of activity movement hip charm vivid dramatization of the present. Unscared though very sensitive.”


For The Beats Krim published Ferlinghetti’s “A Coney Island of the Mind: #5,” usually known by its first line “Sometime During Eternity.”

In commemoration of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s birthday today, here are some famous tweetable quotes from his Poetry as Insurgent Art:

“I am signaling you through the flames”

“The North Pole is not where it used to be”

“What are poets for, in such an age? What is the use of poetry?”

“If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times”

“Nemesis is knocking at the door.”

Follow The Scene and share widely on social media.

Paul Varner


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