Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919-2021), was a prominent voice of the Beat movement. He was a prolific author of poetry, translations, fiction, theater, art criticism, and film narration.
Born in Yonkers in 1919, he served in the U.S. Navy in World War II taking part in the Normandy invasion and visiting Nagasaki just weeks after the bomb was dropped. He received a Master’s degree from Columbia University in 1947 and a Doctorate de l’Université de Paris (Sorbonne) in 1950.
In 1953 he founded San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore, the first all-paperbound bookshop in the country, with Peter D. Martin. He went on to establish the City Lights publishing house where the publication of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl in 1956 led to his arrest on obscenity charges. In the 1960s and 1970s, Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind was one of the most popular poetry books in the U.S with nearly 1,000,000 copies in print today.
In 2017 New Directions published an anthology of his work titled Ferlinghetti’s Greatest Poems, and in 2019 he published the novel Little Boy (Doubleday, 2019).