Friday, April 6, 2018

F is for Lawrence Ferlinghetti: Beat Poet

It's April! Time for the AtoZ Blogging Challenge!

For those who haven't played along before, the AtoZ Blogging Challenge asks bloggers to post every day during April (excepting Sundays), which works out to 26 days, one for each letter of the alphabet. In my opinion, it's the most fun if you choose a theme.

This will be my 5th year participating.
My theme this year is Poets I Love all about some of the poets whose work has touched me over the years.

For my regular readers, you'll see more than the usual once-a-week posts from me this month. I'm having a great time writing them, so I hope you enjoy reading them, too. Be sure to check out some of the other bloggers stretching their limits this month to share their passions with you, too. With over 400 participants, there is bound to be something you'd love to read.


Lawrence Ferlinghetti is one of the last of the uncensored, free-wheeling poets of the Beat movement, exemplified by Kenneth Rexroth, Kenneth Patchen, Marie Ponsot, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Kaufman, Denise Levertov, Robert Duncan, William Carlos Williams, and Gregory Corso. (See how I snuck in the names of lots of other poets I admire?).

My favorite of Ferlinghetti's work is A Coney Island of the Mind. It includes my favorite of his poems: "I Am Waiting" which seems to some a rambling string of bon mots, some deeper than others. It puts me in the mind of what a conversation with Oscar Wilde might have been like:

"I am waiting for someone/ to really discover America
/and wail" isn't that different from "America never has been discovered...I myself would say that it had merely been detected."

And despite the extemporaneous feel, it's not without structure and the things Ferlinghetti is waiting for build on each other and join into thematic sections.

A lot of the Beat poetry plays better aloud than on the page, and "I Am Waiting" is at its very best performed aloud by an impassioned speaker, much like contemporary spoken word poetry.

It's very different than the careful, formal work of sonneteers, and speaks to a different shard of my soul. I'm glad to have such a variety of poetry in my life.

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