Lawrence Ferlinghetti


On March 24, 1919, Lawrence Ferlinghetti was born in Yonkers, New York. After spending his early childhood in France, he received his BA from the University of North Carolina, an MA from Columbia University, and a PhD from the Sorbonne. He is the author of more than thirty books of poetry, including Poetry as Insurgent Art (New Directions, 2007); Americus, Book I (New Directions, 2004); and A Coney Island of the Mind (New Directions, 1958).  In 1953, Ferlinghetti and Peter Martin opened the City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, California, helping to support their magazine City Lights. Two years later, they launched City Lights Publishers, a book-publishing venture, which helped start the careers of many alternative local and international poets. In 1956, Ferlinghetti published Allen Ginsberg's book Howl and Other Poems, which resulted in his being arrested by the San Francisco Police for publishing “obscene work” and a subsequent trial that gained international attention. At the end, the judge concluded that Howl had "some redeeming social importance" and “was not obscene,” and Ferlinghetti prevailed. City Lights became known as the heart of the "Beat" movement, which included writers such as Kenneth Rexroth, Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac, crediting Ferlinghetti with having helped spark the San Francisco literary renaissance of the 1950s and the “Beat” movement that followed, although he does not consider himself a “Beat” poet. Source

Poetry as Insurgent Art [I am signaling you through the flames]

I am signaling you through the flames. 


The North Pole is not where it used to be. 


Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest. 


Civilization self-destructs. 


Nemesis is knocking at the door. 


What are poets for, in such an age?  

What is the use of poetry? 


The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it. 


If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the  

challenge of apocalyptic times, even if this meaning sounds  



You are Whitman, you are Poe, you are Mark Twain, you are  

Emily Dickinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay, you are Neruda 

and Mayakovsky and Pasolini, you are an American or a non- 

American, you can conquer the conquerors with words.... 





Literary Movements:

Beat Generation

Anthology Years:



Ars Poetica

Literary Devices:


an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference


an instruction or a command


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered