Tag Archives: Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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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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

One Fast Move Or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur

There are many new films being made charting the life of The Beats at present (Ferlinghetti & Ginsberg’s Karma are two I have blogged about before). This latest film, One Fast Move Or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur is one that I am eagerly anticipating.

Ferlinghetti & Carolyn Cassady at Bixby Canyon

One Fast Move takes us back to Ferlinghetti’s cabin in Bixby Canyon, Big Sur as well as many of Kerouac’s San Franciscan and New York City haunts. Written in the aftermath of On the Road, Big Sur is a haunting epic, charting Kerouac’s own slide into tortured self-doubt, depression and alcoloholism. Big Sur is compelling in it’s ravaged beauty.

One Fast Move is told in voice over by actor and Kerouac interpreter,kerouac John Ventimiglia (The Sopranos) as well as through the refelections and musings of Beat originals, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, Joyce Johnson & Carolyn Cassady as well as many of the writers, artists and musicians who have been transformed by Kerouac’s lyrical gift: Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Robert Hunter & Aram Saroyan.

And to top it all off, the soundtrack has been composed byJay Farrar (Son Volt) and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), with all of the lyrics taken directly from the pages of the orignial novel.

You can watch a trailer and listen to sample of the soundtrack on the website. So for all you Kerouac devotees and Beat followers, this film is bound to put a smile on your face.

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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…


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Just Kissed Goodbye… Some memories of QPF 2009

QPF 2009 may have just been kissed goodbye, but the words of the 40+ artists who took to the stage continue to resonate in the heads and hearts of the thousands who attended. I am certain that these words will form the seed of many new poems, new friendships, new dialogues and to quote Ferlinghetti, ‘give voice to the tongueless streets’. This quote, alongside ‘wake up, the world is on fire’ (Ferlinghetti), and ‘spoken in one strange word’ (Judith Wright) were written in bold lettering across the windows of The Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. These words breathed life into the shopfront space, which was a new (and may I add, very successful) venue for QPF 2009 and set the tone for an amazing weekend of words.

From the Official Opening where I had the privilege of reading the winning poem from this years Arts QLD Val Vallis Award for an Unpublished Poem – The Severant by Andrew Slattery, the festival simply hummed. I would love to share with you a couple of lines from the winning poem… words that will undoubtedly stay with me:

We have ammended the world.
As I walk home I unpick the seams from the footpaths.

Each muscle locomotes my frame.
I wear my suit and walk into the vista city;

through the old mine with its pile of coal like a dead whale;
past the doctor who repaired my chest;

past the tailor who sews spines
into standing men as they wait.

Throughout the festival, there are many other lines that etched themselves into the very fabric of my being… here are a few:

Cancer’s what gets us. Got Grandpa. Got Baba.
It turns you yellow in the end. So, I’ve been smoking

(from Celebration by Elizabeth Bachinsky)


You suicided all my poetry was written on your skin first
second line
third line a tight rope tight knife

(from Chapter 5 by Paul Magee)


A scorched afternoon in the Alice
or the meltdown that lavas out of kiddies
when they cannot have a treat.

(from Station Street As A Dark Nickelodeon by Kent McCarter)


take with you plenty of water and one mustard seed of faith

(from Mount Wellington by Jane Williams)


Be still. I am the Bear from your dreams.

(from Nature Poem by AF Harrold)


And as the festival drew to a close on Sunday night, we celebrated another incredible session featuring the voices of the QPF Committee (Nerissa Rowan, Zenobia Frost, Debra Ralph, Alicia Bennett, John Koenig, Francis Boyle, Jodi DeVantier & this Lost Shark) alongside Jane Williams, Janet Jackson, Angela Costi, Paul Magee, Geoff Goodfellow, Neil Murray, Elizabeth Bachinsky, AF Harrold and Hinemoana Baker.

And importantly, we celebrated the many achievements of Festival Director, Julie Beverdige as she announced she would be standing down from the position. Julie has taken the festival to a new level during her two year tenure, building on the success of the first eleven years and putting in place the necessary structure to make QPF sustainable for many years to come.

QPF  has yet again provided some life changing moments for me (and many others). Moments that will fuel me, until we do it all again in 2010.


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(Near) Perfect Books of Poetry

The good folks over at Lilliput Review have been compiling a list of perfect or near perfect books of poetry and it has now reached the 200 mark.

You can check out the list here: http://lilliputreview.googlepages.com/nearperfectbooksofpoems

Many of the books on the list are books that have had a huge influence on me: Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Collected Greed Parts 1 – 13 by Diane Wakoski, 100 Poems from the Chinese tr. by Kenneth Rexroth and Poet in New York by Federico Garcia Lorca to name a few.

There are many books on the list I have never read (aaahhh to have the time to read everything I want) and there are of course many titles that I feel should be listed. After all, it wouldn’t be a list if you didn’t want to add to it!

So here are 5 suggestions from me…

On Love and Barley by Basho tr. by Lucien Stryk

The Best of Henri by Adrian Henri

The Clean Dark by Robert Adamson

Radiant Silhouette by John Yau; and

The Three Way Tavern by Ko Un


Each of these collections has had a profound impact on me and I could go on and list more, but I would love to hear which books of poetry you feel deserve to be on the list. So, please add your list of titles in the comments section and feel free to tell us why.

Look forward to hearing from you…


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Synaptic Graffiti, Ferlinghetti & Ginsberg’s Karma

I was excited to read that local collective Synaptic Graffiti are currently seeking submissions for a project titled ‘Memory’. The project seeks submissions of video poems that reflect the place of MEMORY in the construction/reconstruction of our personal and collective histories. Full submission details are available here:


Their first project Slam the Body Politik featured over 350 works of poetry, noise, film, art, animation, performance and activism in a mutimedia format so I am sure that ‘Memory’ is going to be something very special. If video poems are your thing, you should check this out and if they’re not, find a filmmaker to transform your poetry for you.




This got me looking around for poetry films and I stumbled across this gem… a film about one of my poetry heroes, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Ferlinghetti is a feature-length documentary directed by Christopher Felver, and features archival photographs, historical footage, and interviews with Beat luminaries such as Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder and others. The documentary explores the life and work of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who turned ninety this year, and reveals how this iconic poet, artist, publisher, and activist served as a catalyst for numerous literary careers and for the Beat movement itself.

Watch the trailer here: http://ferlinghettifilm.com/trailer.html




Another film that is due for release is Ginsberg’s Karma. In the film, poet Bob Holman retraces Ginsberg’s Indian journey by visiting the places where he stayed and talking with the people he met. It features interviews with Synder, Joanne Kyger, Anne Waldman, and others. 

Watch the trailer here: http://vodpod.com/watch/1509500-ginsbergs-karma-trailer


From the look of the trailers, these two films will be well worth checking out.


Filed under events & opportunities, poetry & publishing