To visit Martin's writing website, press here.

March 24, 2019

Lawrence Ferlinghetti times 100!

Today's the 100th birthday of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. His new book, Little Boy, comes out today. There will be celebrations in San Francisco, where Ferlinghetti is an icon. He still lives in North Beach (the Italian neighborhood). I wish I was there to wish him well.

Ferlinghetti is my favorite living writer and poet. He was the elder brother (and publisher) of the beat poets: Ginsberg, Kerouac, Corso, McClure, di Prima, and so on. In my mind, he stands with Gary Snyder, who is also still kicking, as two different voices from about the same place buzzing in my ear. I used to hear them read when I lived in San Francisco, before Italy, before I started attempting poetry.

So, today, everyone, read a poem by the birthday boy. Read it aloud. Savour it like a long life.

Here's one:

They Were Putting Up The Statue ...

They were putting up the statue
                           of Saint Francis
                      in front of the church
                           of Saint Francis
                                 in the city of San Francisco
           in a little side street
                                    just off the Avenue
                                                                   where no birds sang
             and the sun was coming up on time
                                                                    in its usual fashion
                        and just beginning to shine
                                                       on the statue of Saint Francis
                             where no birds sang

              And a lot of old Italians
                                                    were standing all around
                in the little side street 
                                                     just off the Avenue
                 watching the wily workers
                                                    who were hoisting up the statue
     with a chain and a crane
                                            and other implements
   And a lot of young reporters
                                                in button-down clothes
     were taking down the words
                                                of one young priest
         who was propping up the statue
                                                          with all his arguments

                  And all the while 
                                              while no birds sang
                                                                 any Saint Francis Passion
and while the lookers kept looking 
                                                   up at Saint Francis
           with his arms outstretched
                                                    to the birds which weren’t there
     a very tall very purely naked
                                                   young virgin
       with very long and very straight
                                                straw hair
          and wearing only a very small
                                                          bird’s nest
                in a very existential place
                                             kept passing thru the crowd
                                                                                    all the while
                          and up and down the steps 
                                                                 in front of Saint Francis
                her eyes downcast all the while
                                                                  and singing to herself