Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Rookie (Bronxville, New York)

Biography of Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Lawrence Ferlinghetti poet

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (born March 24, 1919) is an American poet, painter, liberal activist, and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. Author of poetry, translations, fiction, theatre, art criticism, and film narration, he is best known for A Coney Island of the Mind (1958), a collection of poems that has been translated into nine languages, with sales of over one million copies.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti was born in Bronxville, New York on March 24, 1919. His mother, Albertine Mendes-Monsanto (born in Lyon, France) was of French/Portuguese Sephardic Jewish heritage. His father, Carlo Ferlinghetti, was born in the province of Brescia, Italy on March 14, 1872. He immigrated to the United States in 1894, was naturalized in 1896, and worked as an auctioneer in Little Italy, NYC. At some unknown point, Carlo Ferlinghetti shortened the family name to "Ferling," and Lawrence wouldn't learn of his original name until 1942, when he had to provide a birth certificate to join the U.S. Navy. Though he used "Ferling" for his earliest published work, Ferlinghetti reverted to the original Italian "Ferlinghetti" in 1955, when publishing his first book of poems, Pictures of the Gone World.

Ferlinghetti's father died six months before he was born, and his mother was committed to an asylum shortly after his birth. He was raised by his French aunt Emily, former wife of Ludovico Monsanto, an uncle of his mother from the Virgin Islands who taught Spanish at the U.S. Naval Academy. Emily took Ferlinghetti to Strasbourg, France, where they lived during his first five years, with French as his first language.

After their return to the U.S., Ferlinghetti was placed in an orphanage in Chappaqua, N.Y. while Emily looked for employment. She was eventually hired as a French governess for the daughter of Presley Eugene Bisland and his wife Anna Lawrence Bisland, in Bronxville, New York, the latter being the daughter of the founder of Sarah Lawrence College, William Van Duzer Lawrence. They resided at the Plashbourne Estate. In 1926, Ferlinghetti was left in the care of the Bislands. After attending various schools, including Riverdale Country School, Bronxville Public School, and Mount Hermon School (now Northfield Mount Hermon School). During these years, Ferlinghetti became an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America. He attended the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where he earned a B.A. in journalism in 1941. His entry to the world of journalism was writing sports for The Daily Tar Heel, and he published his first short stories in Carolina Magazine, for which Thomas Wolfe had written.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Works:

Pictures of the Gone World (City Lights, 1955) Poetry (enlarged, 1995)
A Coney Island of the Mind (New Directions, 1958) Poetry
Tentative Description of a Dinner Given to Promote the Impeachment of President Eisenhower (Golden Mountain Press, 1958) Broadside poem
Her (New Directions, 1960) Prose
One Thousand Fearful Words for Fidel Castro (City Lights, 1961) Broadside poem
Starting from San Francisco (New Directions, 1961) Poetry (HC edition includes LP of author reading selections)
Journal for the Protection of All Beings (City Lights, 1961) Journal
Unfair Arguments with Existence (New Directions, 1963) Short Plays
Where is VietNam? (Golden Mountain Press, 1963) Broadside poem
Routines (New Directions, 1964) Plays
Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes (1968)
On the Barracks: Journal for the Protection of All Beings 2 (City Lights, 1968) Journal
Tyrannus Nix? (New Directions, 1969) Poetry
The Secret Meaning of Things (New Directions, 1970) Poetry
The Mexican Night (New Directions, 1970) Travel journal
Back Roads to Far Towns After Basho (City Lights, 1970) Poetry
Love Is No Stone on the Moon (ARIF, 1971) Poetry
Open Eye, Open Heart (New Directions, 1973) Poetry
Who Are We Now? (New Directions, 1976) Poetry
Northwest Ecolog (City Lights, 1978) Poetry
Landscapes of Living and Dying (1980)
Over All the Obscene Boundaries (1986)
Love in the Days of Rage (E. P. Dutton, 1988; City Lights, 2001) Novel
A Buddha in the Woodpile (Atelier Puccini, 1993)
These Are My Rivers: New & Selected Poems, 1955–1993 (New Directions, 1993)
City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology (City Lights, 1995)
A Far Rockaway Of The Heart (New Directions, 1998)
How to Paint Sunlight: Lyrics Poems & Others, 1997–2000 (New Directions, 2001)
San Francisco Poems (City Lights Foundation, 2001) Poetry
Life Studies, Life Stories (City Lights, 2003)
Americus: Part I (New Directions, 2004)
A Coney Island of the Mind (Arion Press, 2005), with portraiture by R.B. Kitaj
Poetry as Insurgent Art (New Directions, 2007) Poetry
A Coney Island of the Mind: Special 50th Anniversary Edition with a CD of the author reading his work (New Directions, 2008)
50 Poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti 50 Images by Armando Milani (Rudiano, 2010) Poetry and Graphics
Time of Useful Consciousness, (Americus, Book II) (New Directions, 2012)
Kerouac: Kicks Joy Darkness (Track #8 "Dream: On A Sunny Afternoon..." with Helium) (1997) Rykodisc
Poetry Readings in the Cellar (with the Cellar Jazz Quintet): Kenneth Rexroth & Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1957) Fantasy Records #7002 LP, (Spoken Word)
Ferlinghetti: The Impeachment of Eisenhower (1958) Fantasy Records #7004 LP, (Spoken Word)
Ferlinghetti: Tyrannus Nix? / Assassination Raga / Big Sur Sun Sutra / Moscow in the Wilderness (1970) Fantasy Records #7014 LP, (Spoken Word)
A Coney Island of the Mind (1999) Rykodisc
Pictures of the Gone World with David Amram (2005) Synergy
Further reading
50 poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti 50 images by Armando Milani, poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and images by Armando Milani (GAM Editrice, 2010)
Lawrence Ferlinghetti – Italian Tour 2005, photographs by Walter Pescara (Nicolodi, 2006 – special edition, not for sale)
Charters, Ann (ed.). The Portable Beat Reader. Penguin Books. New York. 1992.
Ferlinghetti: The Artist in His Time, by Barry Silesky (Warner Books, 1990)
Constantly Risking Absurdity: The Writings of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, by Michael Skau (Whitson, 1989)
Lawrence Ferlinghetti: Poet-at-Large, by Larry R. Smith (Southern Illinois University Press, 1983)
Ferlinghetti: A Biography, by Neeli Cherkovski (Doubleday, 1979)
The Beats: A Literary Reference, by Matt Theado (Carroll & Graf, 2003)
Collins, Ronald & Skover, David. Mania: The Story of the Outraged & Outrageous Lives that Launched a Cultural Revolution (Top-Five Books, March 2013)

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A Vast Confusion

Long long I lay in the sands

Sounds of trains in the surf
in subways of the sea
And an even greater undersound
of a vast confusion in the universe
a rumbling and a roaring
as of some enormous creature turning
under sea and earth Updates

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