Beat poet, publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti dead at 101 | CBC News

Poet, publisher and bookseller Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who helped launch and perpetuate the Beat motion, has died. He was 101.

Ferlinghetti died at his San Francisco dwelling on Monday, his son, Lorenzo, instructed The Associated Press on Tuesday. The trigger was lung illness.

He mentioned his father died “in his own room,” holding his son’s palms “as he took his last breath.”

Lorenzo Ferlinghetti mentioned his father cherished Italian meals and the eating places within the North Beach neighbourhood the place he made his dwelling and based his well-known bookstore, City Lights.

He had obtained the primary dose of the COVID-19 vaccine final week and was a month shy of turning 102.

City Lights was an important assembly place for the Beats and different bohemians within the Nineteen Fifties and past.

Ferlinghetti, left, with Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in South Kensington, London, on June 11, 1965. Ferlinghetti revealed Ginsberg’s poem Howl in 1956. (M. Stroud/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


Its publishing arm launched books by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and plenty of others. The most well-known launch was Ginsberg’s anthemic poem Howl. It led to a 1957 obscenity trial that broke new floor for freedom of expression.

In that trial, Ferlinghetti was accused of printing “indecent writings,” however he was later acquitted. The poem went on to turn into one of many twentieth century’s most well-known items of writing.

Ferlinghetti revealed his first assortment, Pictures of the Gone World, in 1955, a small-run collection of his early poems. He adopted up with A Coney Island of the Mind in 1958, which went on to promote a couple of million copies and established Ferlinghetti as a critical creator. 

Relation to the Beat motion

Tall with sharp blue eyes and comfortable spoken and introverted in unfamiliar settings, Ferlinghetti defied definition. Critics typically debated whether or not he must be thought of a Beat poet, however he by no means thought of himself one. He instructed the Guardian newspaper in 2006 that his work was extra centred on sustaining the motion than taking part in it. 

“In some ways, what I really did was mind the store,” he mentioned. “When I arrived in San Francisco in 1951, I was wearing a beret. If anything, I was the last of the bohemians rather than the first of the Beats.”

Still, he shared the Beats’ style for agitation and cultural criticism. 

“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 requested in Little Boy, a stream of consciousness novel revealed round his a hundredth birthday.


Ferlinghetti’s bookstore defied expectations as a lot because the creator himself. As the web, superstore chains and excessive rents shut down quite a few booksellers within the Bay Area and past, City Lights remained a thriving political and cultural outlet. One part was dedicated to books enabling “revolutionary competence,” the place workers might get the break day 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 instructed Interview journal in 2013. “Poetry must be capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times, even if this means sounding apocalyptic.”

City Lights even endured throughout the coronavirus, as a GoFundMe marketing campaign shortly raised $400,000 US after it was compelled to shut and wanted $300,000 US to remain in enterprise. A memorial put up on the bookstore’s web site described Ferlinghetti as an instrumental power in “democratizing American literature.”

“For over 60 years, those of us who have worked with him at City Lights have been inspired by his knowledge and love of literature, his courage in defence of the right to freedom of expression, and his vital role as an American cultural ambassador,” the post reads.

“His curiosity was unbounded, and his enthusiasm was infectious, and we will miss him greatly.

Ferlinghetti appeared in many documentaries, including 2013’s Ferlinghetti: A Rebirth of Wonder. The 2010 movie Howl, starring James Franco and Jon Hamm, dramatized the poem’s obscenity trial. In it, Ferlinghetti was portrayed by American actor Andrew Rogers.

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