I think my propensity for Hemingway causes me to lean away from reading poetry. And that’s ridiculous in and of itself, because Hemingway is a goddamned sentimental writer once you get past all the booze. That’s all to say that I don’t read much poetry and every time I read a collection of poetry I wonder why I don’t do it more often.
Because I don’t really know how to recap or review poems (see above paragraph, startling lack of knowledge/understanding/etc), I’ll instead give you a bit of history on this book. The actual physical book was provided by two dear fellows who visited San Francisco on their honeymoon and correctly assumed that a book was fair compensation for several weeks of cat-sitting. I’m quite pleased that I’ve developed this excellent persona that causes people to gift me books and whisky.
But enough about me. I’d rather talk about Lawrence Ferlinghetti. In the 1950s, Ferlinghetti wound up in San Francisco and helped found the City Lights Bookstore, which is more or less a beacon of light and hope and literary virtue. No hyperbole. City Lights had a publishing press, which was widely known for publishing Beat poets, although they published a myriad of other things as well. Kerouac, Ginsberg, Bukowski – you name it. As you would expect for a bookstore and a poet with a maintained existence in San Francisco since the 50s, Ferlinghetti and City Lights are unabashedly political, and many of the poems in this collection do more than just hint at that sense of the poet as political storyteller.
And of course, there’s some sage advice. Ferlinghetti was the Poet Laureate of San Francisco (speaking of Poet Laureates, you should all maybe give this incredibly talented lady a read), and part of being the Poet Laureate is sharing your knowledge. My favourite line? “Think long thoughts in short sentences.”
Yes, do that.
Books read: 14