Lawrence Ferlinghetti

A poet whose verses combine political and social dissent with substantial literary merit, Lawrence Ferlinghetti is not only a poet, but also a translator, playwright, essayist, art critic, film narrator, and fiction writer. He also co-founded City Lights Books in San Francisco.

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About

The son of an Italian immigrant and an American of French and Portugese descent, Ferlinghetti was born in Yonkers, New York. French was Ferlinghetti’s first language, as (due to his father’s death and his mother’s mental illness) he lived with his aunt in Strasbourg (France) for the first five years of his life. After earning his Bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and serving in the Navy during World War II, he attended graduate school at Columbia University. He earned his Masters’s in English Literature there in 1947, and then earned his Doctorat de l’Université de Paris at the Sorbonne in 1951.

In 1953, he founded City Lights Bookstore with Peter D. Martin. The bookstore was the first all-paperbound bookstore in the country, and, with their Pocket Poets Series, City Lights published Allen Ginsberg’s controversial volume Howl & Other Poems in 1956.

Ferlinghetti has published more than 30 volumes of his own poetry. While associated with the Beat movement, his work is very unlike that of the Beats. (So was his life–he was married in 1951 and had one daughter and one son.) Emerging strongly from the American lyric tradition of Whitman and Eliot, Ferlinghetti’s poetry combines political commentary on democracy in combination with natural wonder and the human plight.

Ferlinghetti currently writes a column for the San Francisco Chronicle.

–Christie Finn

Related Information

Books

Poetry as Insurgent Art

By Lawrence Ferlinghetti

A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems (New Directions Paperback No. 74)

By Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Videos

Songs

Audio

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    Sheet Music

    Collected Songs Volumes (Musto)

    Composer(s): John Musto

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    Collected Songs Volumes (Musto)

    Composer(s): John Musto

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    "Don't Let That Horse--"

    Composer(s): Christopher Berg

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    Songfest

    Composer(s): Leonard Bernstein

    Song(s): 1. The Pennycandystore Beyond The El
    2. A Julia de Burgos
    3. To What You Said
    4. Music I Heard With You
    5. Zizi's Lament
    6. Sonnet: What Lips My Lips Have Kissed...

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