Lawrence Ferlinghetti  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the Beat writers

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (born Lawrence Ferling on March 24, 1919) is an American poet, painter, Liberal, and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. Author of poetry, translations, fiction, theatre, art criticism, and film narration, he is best known for A Coney Island of the Mind (New York: New Directions, 1958), a collection of poems that has been translated into nine languages, with sales of over 1 million copies.

The Beats

Although in style and theme Ferlinghetti’s own writing is very unlike that of the original New York based Beat circle, he had important associations with the Beat writers, who made City Lights Bookstore their headquarters when they were in San Francisco. He has often claimed that he was not a Beat, but a bohemian of an earlier generation. A married war veteran and a bookstore proprietor, he didn’t share the high (or low) life of the beats on the road. Kerouac wrote Ferlinghetti into the character “Lorenzo Monsanto” in his autobiographical novel Big Sur (1962), the story of Jack’s stay (with the Cassadys, the McClures, Lenore Kandel, Lew Welch, and Philip Whalen) at Ferlinghetti’s cabin in the wild coastal region of Big Sur. Kerouac depicts the Ferlinghetti figure as a generous and good-humored host, in the midst of Dionysian revels and breakdowns.

Over the years Ferlinghetti published work by many of the Beats, including Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso, William S. Burroughs, Diane diPrima, Michael McClure, Philip Lamantia, Bob Kaufman, and Gary Snyder. He was Ginsberg’s publisher for over thirty years.

When the Indian poets of the Hungryalists literary movement came in contact with the visiting Beat poets, Ferlinghetti introduced the Hungryalist poets to Western readers through the initial issues of City Lights Journal.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Lawrence Ferlinghetti" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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