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US Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and activist, dies at 101

04:45  24 february  2021
04:45  24 february  2021 Source:   politico.com

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SAN FRANCISCO - Lawrence Ferlinghetti , the poet , publisher, bookseller and activist who helped launch the Beat movement in the 1950s and embody its curious and rebellious spirit well into the 21st century, has died at age 101 . Few poets of the past 60 years were so well known, or so influential. His books sold more than 1 million copies worldwide, a fantasy for virtually any of his peers, and he ran one of the world's most famous and distinctive bookstores, City Lights. Although he never considered himself one of the Beats, he was a patron and soul mate and, for many, a lasting symbol — preaching

Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti at a 1998 reading in Prague. His City Lights bookshop was a center for Beat Generation writers in San Francisco. (Tomas Zelezny/AP). Lawrence Ferlinghetti , an acclaimed poet and longtime proprietor of City Lights, the San Francisco bookstore and avant-garde publishing house that catapulted the Beat Generation to fame and helped establish the city as a center of literary and cultural revolution, died Feb.

SAN FRANCISCO — Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the poet, publisher, bookseller and activist who helped launch the Beat movement in the 1950s and embody its curious and rebellious spirit well into the 21st century, has died at age 101.

a man wearing a hat and glasses: Author Lawrence Ferlinghetti reads a poem after he was awarded the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community at the National Book Awards in November 2005. © Henny Ray Abrams/AP Photo Author Lawrence Ferlinghetti reads a poem after he was awarded the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community at the National Book Awards in November 2005.

Ferlinghetti, a San Francisco institution, died Monday at his home, his son Lorenzo Ferlinghetti said. A month shy of his 102nd birthday, Ferlinghetti died “in his own room,” holding the hands of his son and his son’s girlfriend, “as he took his last breath.” The cause of death was lung disease.

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SAN FRANCISCO — Lawrence Ferlinghetti , the poet , publisher, bookseller and activist who helped launch the Beat movement in the 1950s and embody its curious and rebellious spirit well into the 21st century, has died at age 101 . Few poets of the past 60 years were so well known, or so influential. His books sold more than 1 million copies worldwide, a fantasy for virtually any of his peers, and he ran one of the world’s most famous and distinctive bookstores, City Lights. Although he never considered himself one of the Beats, he was a patron and soul mate and, for many, a lasting symbol — preaching

Lawrence Ferlinghetti , the poet and bookstore owner whose publication of Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” in 1956 led to a landmark obscenity trial that spotlighted the Beat literary movement, has died . He was 101 . He died Monday at his home in San Francisco, according to the Washington Post, citing his son Lorenzo. The cause was lung disease. Ferlinghetti ’s City Lights became the nation’s first all-paperback bookstore when it opened in San Francisco’s North Beach section in 1953. Since then, it has served as a gathering place for writers, artists and bohemians, from Jack Kerouac and the Beats to

Few poets of the past 60 years were so well known, or so influential. His books sold more than 1 million copies worldwide, a fantasy for virtually any of his peers, and he ran one of the world’s most famous and distinctive bookstores, City Lights. Although he never considered himself one of the Beats, he was a patron and soul mate and, for many, a lasting symbol — preaching a nobler and more ecstatic American dream.

“Am I the consciousness of a generation or just some old fool sounding off and trying to escape the dominant materialist avaricious consciousness of America?” he asked in “Little Boy,” a stream of consciousness novel published around the time of his 100th birthday

He made history. Through the City Lights publishing arm, books by Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs and many others came out and the release of Allen Ginsberg’s landmark poem “Howl” led to a 1957 obscenity case that broke new ground for freedom of expression.

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Poet , publisher and bookseller Lawrence Ferlinghetti , who helped launch and perpetuate the Beat movement, has died . He was 101 . Ferlinghetti died at his San Francisco home Monday, his son Lorenzo Ferlinghetti told The Associated Press Tuesday. The cause was lung disease. His father died “in his own room,” holding their hands “as he took his last breath, his son said. Lorenzo Ferlinghetti said his father loved Italian food and the restaurants in the North Beach neighborhood where he made his home and founded his famous bookstore. He had received the first

Lawrence Monsanto Ferlinghetti (born March 24, 1919) is an American poet , painter, social activist , and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. He is the author of poetry , translations, fiction, theatre, art criticism, and film narration.

He also defied history. The Internet, superstore chains and high rents shut down numerous booksellers in the Bay Area and beyond, but City Lights remained a thriving political and cultural outlet, where one section was devoted to books enabling “revolutionary competence,” where employees could get the day off to attend an anti-war protest.

“Generally, people seem to get more conservative as they age, but in my case, I seem to have gotten more radical,” Ferlinghetti told Interview magazine in 2013. “Poetry must be capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times, even if this means sounding apocalyptic.”

The store even endured during the coronavirus outbreak, when it was forced to close and required $300,000 to stay in business. A GoFundMe campaign quickly raised $400,000.

Ferlinghetti, tall and bearded, with sharp blue eyes, could be soft-spoken, even introverted and reticent in unfamiliar situations. But he was the most public of poets and his work wasn’t intended for solitary contemplation. It was meant to be recited or chanted out loud, whether in coffee houses, bookstores or at campus gatherings.

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Lawrence Ferlinghetti , poet , artist, activist and founder of San Francisco’s famous City Lights Bookstore, who has died aged 101 of interstitial lung disease, was the least “beat” of the Beat Generation . • Lawrence Ferlinghetti reading A Coney Island of the Mind and other poems at the University of California, Berkeley, 2005. Perhaps the facts made Ferlinghetti uncomfortable. He was born Lawrence Monsanto Ferling in Yonkers, New York, to a French mother, Albertine Mendes-Monsanto, and an Italian father, Carlo Ferlinghetti , an auctioneer, who had shortened the family

Lawrence Ferlinghetti - Poet and translator Lawrence Ferlinghetti is the author of more than thirty books of poetry and the founder of City Lights In 1994, San Francisco renamed a street in Ferlinghetti 's honor, and in 1998, he was named the first poet laureate of San Francisco. He is the recipient of many international awards and honors, including the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Award for Contribution to American Arts and Letters, the Robert Frost Memorial Medal, and the National Book Foundation's Literarian Award, presented for "outstanding service to the American


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This 1958 compilation, “A Coney Island of the Mind,” sold hundreds of thousands of copies in the U.S. alone. Long an outsider from the poetry community, Ferlinghetti once joked that he had “committed the sin of too much clarity.” He called his style “wide open” and his work, influenced in part by e.e. cummings, was often lyrical and childlike: “Peacocks walked/under the night trees/in the lost moon/light/when I went out/looking for love,” he wrote in “Coney Island.”

Ferlinghetti also was a playwright, novelist, translator and painter and had many admirers among musicians. In 1976, he recited “The Lord’s Prayer” at the Band’s farewell concert, immortalized in Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Waltz.” The folk-rock band Aztec Two-Step lifted its name from a line in the title poem of Ferlinghetti’s “Coney Island” book: “A couple of Papish cats/is doing an Aztec two-step.” Ferlinghetti also published some of the earliest film reviews by Pauline Kael, who with The New Yorker became one of the country’s most influential critics.

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He lived long and well despite a traumatic childhood. His father died five months before Lawrence was born in Yonkers, New York, in 1919, leaving behind a sense of loss that haunted him, yet provided much of the creative tension that drove his art. His mother, unable to cope, had a nervous breakdown two years after his father’s death. She eventually disappeared and died in a state hospital.

Ferlinghetti spent years moving among relatives, boarding homes and an orphanage before he was taken in by a wealthy New York family, the Bislands, for whom his mother had worked as a governess. He studied journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, received a master’s in literature from Columbia University, and a doctorate degree from the Sorbonne in Paris. His early influences included Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe and Ezra Pound.

Ferlinghetti hated war, because he was in one. In 1945, he was a Navy commander stationed in Japan and remembered visiting Nagasaki a few weeks after the U.S. had dropped an atom bomb. The carnage, he would recall, made him an “instant pacifist.”

In the early 1950s, he settled in San Francisco and married Selden Kirby-Smith, whom he divorced in 1976. (They had two children). Ferlinghetti also became a member of the city’s rising literary movement, the so-called San Francisco Renaissance, and soon helped establish a gathering place. Peter D, Martin, a sociologist, had opened a paperback store in the city’s North Beach section and named it after a recent Charlie Chaplin film, “City Lights.” When Ferlinghetti saw the storefront, in 1953, he suggested he and Martin become partners. Each contributed $500.

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Ferlinghetti later told The New York Times: “City Lights became about the only place around where you could go in, sit down, and read books without being pestered to buy something.”

The Beats, who had met in New York in the 1940s, now had a new base. One project was City Lights’ Pocket Poets series, which offered low-cost editions of verse, notably Ginsberg’s “Howl.” Ferlinghetti had heard Ginsberg read a version in 1955 and wrote him: “I greet you at the beginning of a great career. When do I get the manuscript?” a humorous take on the message sent from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Walt Whitman upon reading “Leaves of Grass.”

Ferlinghetti published “Howl and Other Poems” in 1956, but customs officials seized copies of the book that were being shipped from London, and Ferlinghetti was arrested on obscenity charges. After a highly publicized court battle, a judge in 1957 ruled that “Howl” was not obscene, despite its sexual themes, citing the poem’s relevance as a criticism of modern society. A 2010 film about the case, “Howl,” starred James Franco as Ginsberg and Andrew Rogers as Ferlinghetti.

Ferlinghetti would also release Kerouac’s “Book of Dreams,” prison writings by Timothy Leary and Frank O’Hara’s “Lunch Poems.” Ferlinghetti risked prison for “Howl,” but rejected Burrough’s classic “Naked Lunch,” worrying that publication would lead to “sure premeditated legal lunacy.”

Ferlinghetti’s eyesight was poor in recent years, but he continued to write and to keep regular hours at City Lights. The establishment, meanwhile, warmed to him, even if the affection wasn’t always returned. He was named San Francisco’s first poet laureate, in 1998, and City Lights was granted landmark status three years later. He received an honorary prize from the National Book Critics Circle in 2000 and five years later was given a National Book Award medal for “his tireless work on behalf of poets and the entire literary community.”

“The dominant American mercantile culture may globalize the world, but it is not the mainstream culture of our civilization,” Ferlinghetti said upon receiving the award. “The true mainstream is made, not of oil, but of literarians, publishers, bookstores, editors, libraries, writers and readers, universities and all the institutions that support them.”

In 2012, Ferlinghetti won the Janus Pannonius International Poetry Prize from the Hungarian PEN Club. When he learned the country’s right-wing government was a sponsor, he turned the award down.

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