City Lights Bookstore * A Pilgrimage

Some Poets need no introduction; One hopes.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti is one of these masters.

He is of the Beat Generation.

NO. He IS the Beat.

He was born in 1919 and is still an active Poet  and activist. He founded City Lights Bookstore and publishing house; making is possible for Poets such as Allen Ginsburg to publish their work.

“His publication of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl & Other Poems in 1956 led to his arrest on obscenity charges, and the trial that followed drew national attention to the San Francisco Renaissance and Beat movement writers.”  (see below)

I have made the pilgrimage to City Lights. You should too.

Cathedrals come in many guises.

“Poetry is a hard dollar,” my dad used to say.

Poetry is a no dollar. Poetry is  move, an action, a wrinkle in time with no way back.


I go to sleep tonight grateful for Ferlinghetti and for all No Dollar Poets.

I will take Time Warp Beat over Gold any day.

Blessings to the Poets.

Dear Gods and Goddesses;

Nymphes and Sprites;

Hold and Keep them

for we are lost

without them.


Dig?  Jen



I Am Waiting


I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder
I am waiting for the Second Coming
and I am waiting
for a religious revival
to sweep thru the state of Arizona
and I am waiting
for the Grapes of Wrath to be stored
and I am waiting
for them to prove
that God is really American
and I am waiting
to see God on television
piped onto church altars
if only they can find
the right channel
to tune in on
and I am waiting
for the Last Supper to be served again
with a strange new appetizer
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder
I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth
without taxes
and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs
and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder
I am waiting for the Great Divide to be crossed
and I am anxiously waiting
for the secret of eternal life to be discovered
by an obscure general practitioner
and I am waiting
for the storms of life
to be over
and I am waiting
to set sail for happiness
and I am waiting
for a reconstructed Mayflower
to reach America
with its picture story and tv rights
sold in advance to the natives
and I am waiting
for the lost music to sound again
in the Lost Continent
in a new rebirth of wonder
I am waiting for the day
that maketh all things clear
and I am awaiting retribution
for what America did
to Tom Sawyer
and I am waiting
for Alice in Wonderland
to retransmit to me
her total dream of innocence
and I am waiting
for Childe Roland to come
to the final darkest tower
and I am waiting
for Aphrodite
to grow live arms
at a final disarmament conference
in a new rebirth of wonder
I am waiting
to get some intimations
of immortality
by recollecting my early childhood
and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again
youth’s dumb green fields come back again
and I am waiting
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem
and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn
to catch each other up at last
and embrace
and I am awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “I Am Waiting” from A Coney Island of the Mind. Copyright © 1958 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.


A Brief Biography of
Lawrence Ferlinghetti

A prominent voice of the wide-open poetry movement that began in the 1950s, Lawrence Ferlinghetti has written poetry, translation, fiction, theater, art criticism, film narration, and essays. Often concerned with politics and social issues, Ferlinghetti’s poetry countered the literary elite’s definition of art and the artist’s role in the world. Though imbued with the commonplace, his poetry cannot be simply described as polemic or personal protest, for it stands on his craftsmanship, thematics, and grounding in tradition.

Ferlinghetti was born in Yonkers in 1919, son of Carlo Ferlinghetti who was from the province of Brescia and Clemence Albertine Mendes-Monsanto. Following his undergraduate years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he served in the U.S. Navy in World War II as a ship’s commander. He received a Master’s degree from Columbia University in 1947 and a Doctorate de l’Université de Paris (Sorbonne) in 1950. From 1951 to 1953, when he settled in San Francisco, he taught French in an adult education program, painted, and wrote art criticism. In 1953, with Peter D. Martin, he founded City Lights Bookstore, the first all-paperbound bookshop in the country, and by 1955 he had launched the City Lights publishing house.

The bookstore has served for half a century as a meeting place for writers, artists, and intellectuals. City Lights Publishers began with the Pocket Poets Series, through which Ferlinghetti aimed to create an international, dissident ferment. His publication of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl & Other Poems in 1956 led to his arrest on obscenity charges, and the trial that followed drew national attention to the San Francisco Renaissance and Beat movement writers. (He was overwhelmingly supported by prestigious literary and academic figures, and was acquitted.) This landmark First Amendment case established a legal precedent for the publication of controversial work with redeeming social importance.

Ferlinghetti’s paintings have been shown at various galleries around the world, from the Butler Museum of American Painting to Il Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome. He has been associated with the international Fluxus movement through the Archivio Francesco Conz in Verona. He has toured Italy, giving poetry readings in Roma, Napoli, Bologna, Firenze, Milano, Verona, Brescia, Cagliari, Torino, Venezia, and Sicilia. He won the Premio Taormino in 1973, and since then has been awarded the Premio Camaiore, the Premio Flaiano, the Premio Cavour. among others. He is published in Italy by Oscar Mondadori, City Lights Italia, and Minimum Fax. He was instrumental in arranging extensive poetry tours in Italy produced by City Lights Italia in Firenze. He has translated from the Italian Pier Paolo Pasolin’s Poemi Romani, which is published by City Lights Books. In San Francisco, his work can regularly be seen at the George Krevsky Gallery at 77 Geary Street.

Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind continues to be the most popular poetry book in the U.S. It has been translated into nine languages, and there are nearly 1,000,000 copies in print. The author of poetry, plays, fiction, art criticism, and essays, he has a dozen books currently in print in the U.S., and his work has been translated in many countries and in many languages. His most recent books are A Far Rockaway of the Heart (1997),How to Paint Sunlight (2001), and Americus Book I (2004) published by New Directions.

He has been the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Los Angeles Times’ Robert Kirsch Award, the BABRA Award for Lifetime Achievement, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Award for Contribution to American Arts and Letters, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award. Ferlinghetti was named San Francisco’s Poet Laureate in August 1998, and he used his post as a bully-pulpit from which he articulated the seldom-heard “voice of the people.” In 2003 he was awarded the Robert Frost Memorial Medal, the Author’s Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, and he was elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters.

(from City Lights Booksellers and Publishers

~ by Step On a Crack on April 18, 2012.

19 Responses to ““I Am Waiting” BY LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI”

  1. Thank you for my breakfast-time reading this morning.

    Marie Marshall


  2. Wow. I dig. Thats alotta waiting my friend. I wait, but not holding my breath. Wonderful, thoughtful, SMART, right on! Thanks for sharing Jen!


    • I knew you would. If Ferlinghetti can be waiting and shaping for all his years we can too. I want to be like him when I grow up: well an amalgam of him and Patti Smith

      XOXO Jen


  3. Very nice. I love the picture of the bookstore too!


    • Thank you! I LOVE City Lights. I love just being in the building and knowing how many Poets and Writers who have shaped our culture and who have taken risks have stood on that floor and read their words. Oh it makes me happy just to think of it!

      Peace, Jen


  4. Love that poem!! I had never heard of him so thanks for the introduction!!!
    Have a gorgeous day!!
    Andrea XOXOXO


  5. Wow, it has been decades since I’ve heard this poet’s name! Thanks for featuring him, and for your lovely exhortation that we must hold and keep our poets! Have an excellent weekend, Jen–God bless you.


    • Dear Caddo,

      I hope you know that when I think of, write about Holding our Poets you are among those that must be held. I deeply respect your writing.

      I hope you are having a Prefect Caddo Day,

      Peace, Jen


      • Dearest Jen,

        Well, I’ll be frank–today’s an immense improvement over the past week, thank you, Lord!!! Wishing you all good things today, the blessings from His Hand. Pax, Caddo


      • Dear Caddo,

        Isn’t it weird who Words come and go? Do you think there is a rhyme or reason to the Muse?

        I am Happy this week is going better for you my Friend!

        Blessings, Jen


      • I think our muses are very special spirits, Jen–I have one who is my true love (passed on in 1998), and then I have Betty, alive and well, my “sister of the sea”. But I suspect there are more–I just haven’t met them all yet!! I dare say you may show up shortly, as I’m bent over my clipboard…I’ll be sure to let you know! love, Caddo


      • Special Spirits Indeed!

        I must say, ‘ my true love (passed on in 1998)’
        breaks my heart. I am so sorry. Sorry is a weak and ineffectual word.

        My muse My son was born in 1998. The circle story continues.

        Betty. Sister of the Sea. THAT is beautiful.

        XXXOOO Jen


  6. Oh Jen, I definitely love that your son was born in 1998, and is your muse–that does comfort me, that the circle continues. I am too happy to weep!


  7. […] (“I am Waiting” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti) […]


  8. An interesting juxtaposition to my blog’s poem today, also with a theme of waiting….
    thanks for checking out my blog.


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