Lawrence Ferlinghetti


b. 1919

Beat Generation Writer

Born in Yonkers, New York, Lawrence Ferlinghetti grew up mostly as an orphan. He began writing poetry at 16, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and received his B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He earned an M.A. from Columbia and from the Sorbonne in France he got a Ph.D.

In the early 1950s he moved to San Francisco and became part of the San Francisco Renaissance group of poets and artists that included Kenneth Rexroth, Michael McClure, Philip Lamantia, Robert Duncan, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Denise Levertov, William Everson and Jonathan Williams. Ferlinghetti met Ginsberg and Kerouac in the 1950s.

Kerouac's Big Sur depicts the time during the summer of 1960 when he had a breakdown while staying at Ferlinghetti's Bixby Canyon cabin.

In 1953 Ferlinghetti and Peter Martin opened the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco's North Beach area. He also created the Pocket Poets Series that published Beat-related and progressive literary work. The first number published in the series was Ferlinghetti's Pictures of the Gone World. His friend and comrade, Kenneth Rexroth, in reviewing the book called the writing "the folk poetry of the displaced urban intellectual." Rexroth's own Thirty Spanish Poems of Love and Exile was the second publication in the Pocket Poets Series. Ginsberg's Howl which Ferlinghetti had heard read at the Six Gallery in October, 1955 was published as the fourth book in the series in 1956.

Ferlinghetti would later be arrested with his clerk Shig Murao for distributing Howl; it was considered obscene. A trial followed and he was cleared of the charges.

City Lights and the Pocket Poets Series were important outlets for Beat-related writing. Ferlinghetti's efforts did much to popularize and spread the work of poets who were routinely rejected by the established publishing houses.

Ferlinghetti's second book, A Coney Island of the Mind was published in 1958 and soon became almost as popular as Howl, and nearly as controversial. A Long Island politician called the book "anti-Christian". It was a sentiment that years later his old friend Kerouac would echo.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Batting Record YEAR TEAM POS BA AB H HR RBI 1983 Beats of .314 520 163 12 57 1984 Beats dh .269 275 74 6 30 1985 Beats of .350 40 14 0 4 1987 Beats cf .230 200 46 4 22 1988 Beats lf .338 625 211 15 69 1989 Beats lf .308 78 24 1 8 1990 Beats lf .330 430 142 10 47 1991 Beats lf .264 352 93 9 40 1992 Beats lf .290 348 101 8 46 1993 Beats lf .295 353 104 9 49 1994 Beats lf .282 369 104 8 42 1995 Beats of .310 387 120 10 40 1996 Beats of .296 541 160 34 97 13 Seasons .300 4518 1356 126 551

A Ferlinghetti Biography

Includes Commentary About Ferlinghetti's Views About Computers

Online Ferlinghetti Poem

Ferlinghetti and the Howl Trial

Ferlinghetti poem- Sometimes During Eternity

Outline for an April 1996 Conference on Ferlinghetti, San Francisco and the Beat Generation

The Works of Ferlinghetti

Baseball Canto

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Watching baseball, sitting in the sun, eating popcorn,
reading Ezra Pound,
and wishing that Juan Marichal would hit a hole right through the
Anglo-Saxon tradition in the first Canto
and demolish the barbarian invaders.
When the San Francisco Giants take the field
and everybody stands up for the National Anthem,
with some Irish tenor's voice piped over the loudspeakers,
with all the players struck dead in their places
and the white umpires like Irish cops in their black suits and little
black caps pressed over their hearts,
Standing straight and still like at some funeral of a blarney bartender,
and all facing east,
as if expecting some Great White Hope or the Founding Fathers to
appear on the horizon like 1066 or 1776.

But Willie Mays appears instead,
in the bottom of the first,
and a roar goes up as he clouts the first one into the sun and takes
off, like a footrunner from Thebes.
The ball is lost in the sun and maidens wail after him
as he keeps running through the Anglo-Saxon epic.
And Tito Fuentes comes up looking like a bullfighter
in his tight pants and small pointy shoes.
And the right field bleechers go made with Chicanos and blacks
and Brooklyn beer-drinkers,
"Tito! Sock it to him, sweet Tito!"
And sweet Tito puts his foot in the bucket
and smacks one that don't come back at all,
and flees around the bases
like he's escaping from the United Fruit Company.
As the gringo dollar beats out the pound.
And sweet Tito beats it out like he's beating out usury,
not to mention fascism and anti-semitism.
And Juan Marichal comes up,
and the Chicano bleechers go loco again,
as Juan belts the first ball out of sight,
and rounds first and keeps going
and rounds second and rounds third,
and keeps going and hits paydirt
to the roars of the grungy populace.
As some nut presses the backstage panic button
for the tape-recorded National Anthem again,
to save the situation.

But it don't stop nobody this time,
in their revolution round the loaded white bases,
in this last of the great Anglo-Saxon epics,
in the territorio libre of Baseball.

1997 Dharma Beats Roster

1997 Lawrence Ferlinghrtti Cosmic Player Plate
Published: December 24, 1996
Updated: March 24, 2010