Tag Archives: City Lights Books

Interview with Ferlinghetti


At 93 Lawrence Ferlinghetti remains a giant in the poetry world; a man who was at the heart of the Beat Generation, a man who helped shaped contemporary poetry in the last century through his work at City Lights, his own creative output and his staunch activism. I came across this interview tonight and it is Lawrence at his razor-sharp best. I hope you find the time to read it… it’s a gift : Ferlinghetti talks to Christopher Bollen.

And here’s one of my all time favourite Lawrence poems… one that I have covered many times: In Goya’s greatest scenes…

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Travel Plans…

Tomorrow, this Lost Shark boards a plane for distant waters, namely Vancouver and San Francisco. So things will slow down here over the next month, but there will still be the occasional post, I mean, there will have to be a photo outside City Lights!!! It still all seems a little unreal this morning as I clean and contemplate what to pack, but here’s a few places that are on the must visit list:

Granville Island:

For food and arts this place is mind-blowingly good. I ate a red snapper soup last time I was there and have wanted it ever since.

Zulu Records:

One of the coolest record stores I have ever stepped inside.

MacLeod’s Books:

Last time I was there, I asked if there was a copy of Leonard Cohen’s Parasites of Heaven, and though there wasn’t, the gentleman behind the counter produced an album of photos of Cohen sitting outside the legendary Sylvia Hotel on English Bay. A moment I will always treasure.

Caffe Trieste:

These walls would have some stories to tell… legendary hang out for Beat authors, Lawrence Ferlinghetti (still a regular), Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Jack Hirschman (another current regular) & co.


Another legendary Beat hang out, located just across from City Lights in Jack Kerouac Alley.

City Lights:

It will be unbelievable to walk into this store… this place and the literature it has produced has been a major influence. Am sure I will visit more than once!


This is but a handful of places on the list… I look forward to bringing back many stories and of course, a few poems too!


Filed under discussions

Ferlinghetti still kicking it at 92

On March 24, Beat icon, Lawrence Ferlinghetti celebrated his 92nd birthday. His work as a poet, activist, artist, publisher and co-founder of the legendary City Lights continue to have a profound influence on the arts and literary communtiy worldwide. His 1958 collection, A Coney Island of the Mind is still the best selling poetry collection in the USA, it’s wild jazz rhythms as potent as ever.

So Lawrence, happy (belated) 92nd birthday. To celebrate, here’s a podcast of Lawrence debuting material from his collection, Poetry as Insurgent Art back in 2007. And if that is not enough to satiate your need for Ferlinghetti’s bristling images, check out this reading of his classic poem, The World is a Beautiful Place.

In just a few short months, I will fulfil one of my life’s dreams of setting foot in City Lights… and who knows, maybe I will be lucky enough to bump into Lawrence while I am there.


Filed under discussions, interviews/artist profiles

Make my grave shape of heart: Peter Orlovsky, 1933 – 2010

I was sad to read yesterday that Beat legend, Peter Orlovsky had passed away on May 30. Orlovsky, who was Allen Ginsberg’s life-long partner, died in Vermont as fellow Beat legend Anne Waldman writes,  “with “trach” in throat in orange sheets at the kind Vt Respite Center in Williston, Vermont (but no extra tubes/ heroic measures for this advanced cancer on his lung!), a copy of the Songs of Saraha by his pillow, photo of beloved Allen Ginsberg companion of many years on the wall, other Buddhist images, iPod of music he loved including chants by Buddhist nuns, cards from friends and out the window a bird feeder with finch and red-winged blackbirds landing/taking off.” (Read Waldman’s full tribute here)

Orlovsky’s poetry was overshadowed by Ginsbergs for many years, but his work has since earned the deep respect of readers, writers and critics. His writings were collected by City Lights Books in 1977 and William Carlos Williams described his work as having, “the kind of natural voice America would one day sound.”

Orlovsky was a true original and his presence in the world will continue to have a lasting impact on all that come into contact with his words.

His ‘Snail Poem’, has long been a favourite of mine… Here it is, along with a link to 3 other fine poems.

Snail Poem

Make my grave shape of heart so like a flower be free aired
       & handsome felt,
Grave root pillow, tung up from grave & wigle at
       blown up clowd.
Ear turnes close to underlayer of green felt moss & sound
       of rain dribble thru this layer
       down to the roots that will tickle my ear.
Hay grave, my toes need cutting so file away
       in sound curve or
Garbage grave, way above my head, blood will soon
       trickle in my ear –
       no choise but the grave, so cat & sheep are daisey
Train will tug my grave, my breath hueing gentil vapor
       between weel & track.
So kitten string & ball, jumpe over this mound so
       gently & cutely
So my toe can curl & become a snail & go curiousely
       on its way.

                                                    Peter Orlovsky, 1958 NYC            


Filed under interviews/artist profiles

Sunday Morning News brought to you by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Ferlinghetti is a leading voice of the Wide Open Poetry Movement, founder of City Lights Books, champion of poetry and voice of social change. Since the 50’s, Ferlinghetti has been bringing us the news, through his incendiary verse. So here’s the news, this Sunday morning… Ferlinghetti style.




I Am Waiting 

I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting
for someone to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

(read the whole poem here)


And while you are getting some news, why not take another hit straight from the man’s mouth. Here’s a link to a great reading Ferlinghetti gave as part of the Lunch Poems series at Berkeley University early last year.

Enjoy your Sundays…


Filed under poetry & publishing