I remember the first time I wandered into City Lights Bookstore. It was on my first trip alone to San Francisco, and it was like no other bookstore I had ever been in.
I was in my twenties and in awe of the array of topics I could choose from. Radical and vital. Subjects which were usually forbidden, censored or severely curtailed by most mainstream publishers and bookstores. Voices I had never heard before, about things I knew little to nothing about. And all affordable.
So I was really saddened to hear about the death of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and founder of this amazing establishment. He opened a world to me and countless others, who desperately needed that door cracked wide open. He made it to 101 years of age.
In a time where the threat to expression and speech has seldom been higher, with corporate interests and the surveillance state joining forces, emboldened to tighten their grip on deciding the very future of human discourse and language, Ferlinghetti’s vision and courage has never been so needed.
May he rest in peace and in power, and may we carry the torch he lit so many years ago forward.
“If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of
apocalyptic times, even if this meaning sounds apocalyptic.
You are Whitman, you are Poe, you are Mark Twain, you are Emily Dickinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay, you are Neruda and Mayakovsky and Pasolini, you are an American or a non-American, you can conquer the conquerors with words.”
— Lawrence Ferlinghetti. From Poetry as Insurgent Art
Lawrence Ferlinghetti (March 24, 1919 – February 22, 2021)
Kenn Orphan February 2021
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