Author Lawrence Ferlinghetti Reads Poem After Receiving Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community at the National Book Awards in November 2005 | Henny Ray Abrams / AP Photo

SAN FRANCISCO – Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the poet, publisher, bookseller and activist who helped launch the Beat movement in the 1950s and embodied his inquisitive and rebellious spirit into the 21st century, has died at the age of 101 years

Ferlinghetti, a San Francisco institution, died at his home on Monday, his son Lorenzo Ferlinghetti said A month before his 102nd birthday, Ferlinghetti died “in his own room”, holding the hands of his son and girlfriend of his son, “as he took his last breath” The cause of death was lung disease

Few of the poets of the past 60 years were so well known or so influential.His books have sold over a million copies worldwide, a fantasy to virtually all of his peers, and he ran one of the bookstores most famous and distinctive in the world, City Lights Although he never considered himself one of the Beats, he was a boss and soul mate and, for many, an enduring symbol – preaching an American dream more noble and more ecstatic

“Am I the conscience of a generation or just a ringing old fool trying to escape America’s mainstream materialistic miserly conscience?” he asked in “Little Boy,” a conscience novel published around the time of his 100th birthday.

It Made History Through the City Lights publishing branch, books by Jack Kerouac, William S Burroughs and many others came out and the release of Allen Ginsberg’s landmark poem “Howl” has led to an obscenity case in 1957 which opened up new avenues for free speech

It has also defied internet history, supermarket chains and high rents have closed many booksellers in the Bay Area and beyond, but City Lights has remained a thriving political and cultural outlet, where a section was devoted to books enabling a “revolutionary skill”, where employees could spend the day attending an anti-war demonstration

“In general people seem to get more conservative as they get older, but in my case I seem to have become more radical,” Ferlinghetti told Interview magazine in 2013 “Poetry must be able to respond to the challenge of apocalyptic times , even if that means sounding apocalyptic “

The store even suffered during the coronavirus outbreak, when it was forced to close and required $ 300,000 to stay in business A GoFundMe campaign quickly raised $ 400,000

Ferlinghetti, tall and bearded, with sharp blue eyes, might be soft-spoken, even introverted and reluctant in unfamiliar situations.But he was the most public poet and his work was not intended for solitary contemplation. was meant to be recited or sung aloud, whether in coffee shops, bookstores or at gatherings on campus

This 1958 compilation, “A Coney Island of the Mind,” has sold hundreds of thousands of solo US copies Long a stranger to the poetic community, Ferlinghetti once joked that he had “committed the sin of too much clarity” He called his style “wide open” and his work, influenced in part by ee cummings, was often lyrical and childish: “The peacocks were walking / under the trees of the night / in the lost moon / the light / when I was going out / looking for love, “he writes in” Coney Island “

Ferlinghetti was also a playwright, novelist, translator and painter and had many admirers among musicians. In 1976 he recited “The Lord’s Prayer” at the band’s farewell concert, immortalized in Martin’s “The Last Waltz” Scorsese “The folk-rock group Aztec Two-Step took their name from a line of the title poem in Ferlinghetti’s book” Coney Island “:” A couple of Papish cats / is doing an Aztec two-step “Ferlinghetti also published some of the first film reviews of Pauline Kael, who along with The New Yorker became one of the most influential critics in the country

He lived long and well despite a traumatic childhood His father died five months before Lawrence was born in Yonkers, New York, in 1919, leaving behind a sense of loss that haunted him, while providing him with great part of the creative tension that animated his art Her mother, unable to cope, suffered a nervous breakdown two years after her father’s death She finally disappeared and died in a public hospital

Ferlinghetti spent years moving among relatives, boarding houses and an orphanage before being taken in by a wealthy New York family, the Bislands, for whom his mother had worked as a housekeeper. He studied journalism at the ‘University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, received an MA in Literature from Columbia University and a PhD from the Sorbonne in Paris His early influences include Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe and Ezra Pound

Ferlinghetti hated war, because he was in a In 1945 he was a naval commander stationed in Japan and remembered visiting Nagasaki a few weeks after the US had dropped an atomic bomb The carnage, remembers- he, made him an “instant pacifist”

In the early 1950s he moved to San Francisco and married Selden Kirby-Smith, whom he divorced in 1976 (They had two children) Ferlinghetti also became a member of the city’s burgeoning literary movement, the so-called Renaissance of San Francisco, and quickly helped establish a gathering place Peter D, Martin, a sociologist, had opened a pocket store in the North Beach section of town and named it after a recent Charlie Chaplin film, “City Lights” When Ferlinghetti saw the storefront, in 1953, he suggested that he and Martin become partners Each has contributed $ 500

Ferlinghetti later told the New York Times: “City Lights became pretty much the only place you could walk in, sit and read books without being hassled to buy something.”

The Beats, which had met in New York in the 1940s, now had a new base One of the projects was City Lights’ Pocket Poets series, which featured low-cost editions of verse, including ” Howl “of Ginsberg” Ferlinghetti had heard Ginsberg read a version in 1955 and had written to him: “Hail to you at the beginning of a great career When will I receive the manuscript? »A humorous interpretation of the message sent by Ralph Waldo Emerson to Walt Whitman when reading” Leaves of Grass “

Ferlinghetti published “Howl and Other Poems” in 1956, but customs officers seized copies of the book that were being shipped from London, and Ferlinghetti was arrested for obscenity After a high-profile court battle, a judge in 1957 ruled that “Howl” was not obscene, despite its sexual themes, citing the poem’s relevance as a critique of modern society A 2010 film on the case, “Howl,” starred James Franco as Ginsberg and Andrew Rogers as Ferlinghetti

Ferlinghetti will also publish Kerouac’s “Dream Book”, the prison writings of Timothy Leary and Frank O’Hara, “Lunch Poems” Ferlinghetti risked prison for “Howl”, but rejected the classic “Naked Lunch “by Burrough, fearing the publication would lead to” premeditated legal madness “

Ferlinghetti’s eyesight has been poor in recent years, but he continued to write and stay regularly at City Lights The establishment, meanwhile, has warmed towards him, even though affection was not always returned He was named the first poet laureate of San Francisco, in 1998, and City Lights was granted historic monument status three years later He received an honorary award from the National Book Critics Circle in 2000 and five years later received a National Book Award medal for “his tireless work on behalf of poets and the entire literary community.”

“The dominant American mercantile culture may globalize the world, but it is not the dominant culture of our civilization,” Ferlinghetti said of receiving the award “The real mainstream is not oil, but literary people, publishers, bookstores, publishers, libraries, writers and readers, universities and all the institutions that support them”

In 2012 Ferlinghetti won the Janus Pannonius International Poetry Prize from the Hungarian club PEN When he learned that the country’s right-wing government was a sponsor, he turned down the prize

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

World News – United States – Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and activist, dies at 101