Lawrence Ferlinghetti is significant to the development of 20th-century American poetry as both a poet and publisher. He opened the San Francisco bookstore and publisher City Lights Books in 1953 in partnership with Peter Martin and bought Martin's interest in the business in 1955, the same year he published his own first book; by then, he had developed "a unique style, owing more to E. E. cummings and Kenneth patchen than either T. S. eliot or Ezra pound, his great influ ences of the 1940s" (Cherkovski 83). His publisher in the future was to be James Laughlin at New Directions, an avant-garde publishing house on the East Coast as City Lights was on the West (see poetry presses). Through Kenneth rexroth, Ferlinghetti met other artists and writers, with whom he became part of the san francisco renaissance. Among his notable editorial decisions at City Lights were to publish Allen ginsberg's howl and Other Poems, which resulted in an infamous and successfully defended obscenity trial, Ginsbergs kaddish and Other Poems, and Gregory corsos Gasoline, each of a major work of midcentury American poetry Ferlinghetti strove to extend the City Lights list beyond beat and San Francisco Renaissance works, and therefore he also published translations of new poetry from around the world.
Born in Yonkers, New York, Ferlinghetti had an early childhood fraught with upheaval. His father died before Lawrence, the youngest of five sons, was born. His birth mother broke down under the difficulties she faced and was institutionalized for a number of years. separated from his brothers, Ferlinghetti was subsequently abandoned without warning by his foster mother and left in the care of her employers. Thomas Wolfe's literary appeal led Ferlinghetti to choose Wolfe's alma mater, the University of North Carolina, for his postsecondary education, and he graduated with a bachelors degree in 1941. After naval service in World War ii, he earned a master's degree from Columbia in 1947 and a Ph.D. at the Sorbonne in 1949. His dissertation examined "The City as a Symbol in Modern Poetry," and urban geography is a significant figure in Ferlinghetti's creative work.
His poetry consistently considers his personal and public concerns: identity and society Ferlinghetti, like many poets of the postwar period, discovered the therapeutic value of writing his way through personal experiences as a means to understanding himself and his world, and his background provided him with an abundance of material to be resolved. "A chief subject of Ferlinghetti's poetry is often Ferlinghetti himself" (Skau 52), a statement applicable to the work of virtually every other writer who emerged in the same period. Ferlinghetti's social and political activism, as well as his commitment to and participation in the arts, received
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