In Loving Memory of Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Posted on February 24, 2021


I love Lawrence Ferlinghetti because he made poetry, especially Beat poetry, available to me through City Lights Publications, whose paperbacks I would buy used, two-plus decades after they were printed.

I have been called a hippie my entire adult life, but I’m not a hippie, I’m Beat. 

I will always be happy that I spent a summer on an independent study on Beat literature with Dr. Russ Larsen at Eastern Michigan University. I was on vacation in Kansas, visiting family and enjoying the prairie. I rose early each day to work on my studies before spending the day with my family. It was one of the most influential courses I ever took. (Thanks, Russ!)

I had loved the Beats since being introduced to them a few years prior. Of course, I was always aware of poet, Allen Ginsberg, but I was not aware that he was grouped with a number of people who were called Beat poets until the late 80s. 

My first foray into Beat literature was Jack Kerouac’s On the Road,  and then I read The Dharma Bums, and I was hooked. The Beats appeared at the perfect time in my life:  just as I was recovering from a 5-year stint in Evangelical Christianity, and the Beats’  interest in meditation practices lead me to begin my own, which has been an anchor of peace in my life ever since, and for which I am eternally grateful. 

I only own one volume of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poetry, Starting From San Francisco, and one line from the back cover is a clue to my special fondness for this volume. It says, “the long poems of Starting From San Francisco present a new, quieter, more profound aspect of the poet. His original lyricism and caustic humor have been confronted, as it were, with the real presence of evil and death.” 

I bought this paperback poetry book in the Dawn Treader Book Shop in downtown Ann Arbor, where a single mom on welfare going to college could afford to buy a book. This slim volume has been a light unto my path for decades, as has the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco been Ferlinghetti’s gift to the world. I am grateful for his words, his work, and his spirit. I post this in loving memory of Lawrence Ferlinghetti: poet publisher, light to the world. Thank you, Lawrence. 

Here are some images from my treasured LF volume:

lisa eddy is a writer and editor for-hire, researcher, educator-for-hire, youth advocate,  musician, and gardener.

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