Written by: Kelly Deneen
When I heard the news that Lawrence Ferlinghetti passed away on February 22, I was heartbroken. Ferlinghetti was a 101-year old poet, activist, and founder of the famous bookstore City Lights in San Francisco. He was a prominent figure in the Beat movement who was connected to writers such as Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, and published Allen Ginsberg’s book “Howl and Other Poems.”
I first read Ferlinghetti’s poetry from The Norton Anthology of Poetry a few years ago. One poem in particular has stayed with me: “I am Waiting.” It is written in short lines with no punctuation, only giving way to a breath when there is a break between each stanza. The poem is about hope and the “rebirth of wonder” as seen in the lines, “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”. The speaker hopes for a better future; not just for himself, but for America too. Waiting implies what is not currently had. The “rebirth of wonder” suggests that people need to change the way they live for both themselves and America.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti will be deeply missed. His poetry and art will continue to live on and inspire those who come across it. City Lights Books continues his legacy. There, readers from across the globe can browse until midnight each night for literature that educates, provokes, and inspires them. The bookstore both publishes and sells books including poetry, fiction, translations, politics, history, philosophy, music, spirituality, and more. Events are currently virtual with readings from different authors each week. There is even a Youtube page, in case you miss any event!