Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the poet, writer and political iconoclast who impressed and nurtured generations of San Francisco artists and writers from Metropolis Lights, his famed bookstore, died on Monday at his dwelling in San Francisco. He was 101.
The trigger was interstitial lung illness, his daughter, Julie Sasser, mentioned.
The non secular godfather of the Beat motion, Mr. Ferlinghetti made his dwelling base within the modest impartial guide haven now formally generally known as Metropolis Lights Booksellers & Publishers. A self-described “literary meeting place” based in 1953 and situated on the border of town’s typically swank, typically seedy North Seaside neighborhood, Metropolis Lights quickly turned as a lot part of the San Francisco scene because the Golden Gate Bridge or Fisherman’s Wharf. (Town’s board of supervisors designated it a historic landmark in 2001.)
Whereas older and never a practitioner of their freewheeling private model, Mr. Ferlinghetti befriended, printed and championed most of the main Beat poets, amongst them Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and Michael McClure. His connection to their work was exemplified — and cemented — in 1956 along with his publication of Ginsberg’s most well-known poem, the ribald and revolutionary “Howl,” an act that later led to his arrest on costs of “willfully and lewdly” printing “indecent writings.”
In a big First Modification resolution, Mr. Ferlinghetti was acquitted, and “Howl” turned one of many 20th century’s best-known poems. (The trial was the centerpiece of the 2010 movie “Howl,” during which James Franco performed Ginsberg and Andrew Rogers performed Mr. Ferlinghetti.)
Along with being a champion of the Beats, Mr. Ferlinghetti was himself a prolific author of broad skills and pursuits whose work evaded simple definition, mixing disarming simplicity, sharp humor and social consciousness.
“Every great poem fulfills a longing and puts life back together,” he wrote in a “non-lecture” after being awarded the Poetry Society of America’s Frost Medal in 2003. A poem, he added, “should arise to ecstasy somewhere between speech and song.”
Critics and fellow poets had been by no means in settlement about whether or not Mr. Ferlinghetti ought to be considered a Beat poet. He himself didn’t suppose so.
“In some ways what I really did was mind the store,” he advised The Guardian in 2006. “When I arrived in San Francisco in 1951 I was wearing a beret. If anything I was the last of the bohemians rather than the first of the Beats.”
An entire obituary shall be printed shortly.
Richard Severo, Peter Keepnews and Alex Traub contributed reporting.