Poet, Painter, Publisher (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)
Materials Sandblasted glass, cast glass, bronze, wood, and printed steel
As a person who bridges the gap between the beatnik generation and the hippies, I visited City Lights Bookstore (named after the 1931 Charlie Chaplin film) frequently while living in San Francisco in 1969. My friend Phil Watts turned me on to the beat poets while I was living and working in Washington DC in 1965 so I was eager to absorb the atmosphere of this shrine to their writings. Lawrence Ferlinghetti is a triple threat mostly known as a poet; however, he is also the proprietor of the bookshop and the publisher of virtually every well-known member of this group of poetry superstars. What is least known about him is his more than 60-year career as a painter.
In order to tell the story of this remarkable man who marked his 100th birthday in 2019 still going strong, I have chosen some specific references. The image of Ferlinghetti is from Christopher Felver’s iconic photo. The overall format is from his painting “Unfinished Flag of the United States”. The three poetry chap books from the Pocket Poet Series are the first one published Ferlinghetti’s own “Pictures from a Gone World” as well as “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg, and “Gasoline” by Gregory Corso. The address is that of the Bookstore, and the text is from his poem, “I am Waiting”, from the collection Coney Island of the Mind.