Thursday, April 9, 2015

National Poetry Month: Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Photo by Christopher Michel
I had to include at least one beat poet.  Ferlinghetti was one of the San Francisco beat poets. He was the co-founder of City Lights Bookstore, which published poetry books called  the Pocket Poet series. The first in the series consisted of his own poems, then he followed up with the poems of Kenneth Rexroth, Kenneth Patchen, Marie Ponsot, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Kaufman, Denise Levertov, Robert Duncan, William Carlos Williams, and Gregory Corso.

When he published Ginsberg's poem Howl,  Ferlinghetti was arrested for obscenity and had to stand trial. He was acquitted.

This poem is about poets. I really like it. He forms an analogy between a poet and an acrobat.

Constantly Risking Absurdity
by  Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Constantly risking absurdity
and death
whenever he performs
above the heads
of his audience
the poet like an acrobat
climbs on rime
to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
above a sea of faces
paces his way
to the other side of the day
performing entrachats
and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
and all without mistaking
any thing
for what it may not be
For he's the super realist
who must perforce perceive
taut truth
before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
with gravity
to start her death-defying leap
And he
a little charleychaplin man
who may or may not catch
her fair eternal form
spreadeagled in the empty air
of existence

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