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.
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