Posts Tagged ‘Naked Lunch’

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

February 3, 2009

If you’re into poetry and/or surreal prose, then you’ve probably read a thing or two about the Beat Generation.  According to Wikipedia (I know, I know, your teachers probably tell you not to use Wikipedia as a main source, but I’m not a teacher, and this ain’t no research paper!) the Beat Generation is a term used to describe a group of Americans who wrote during the 1950s and the cultural phenomena that they wrote about, which included a rejection of certain mainstream American values, an embrace of social experimentation, and an interest in Eastern philosophies.


Well, you might be familiar with Allen Ginsberg (Howl), Jack Kerourac (On the Road) & William S. Burroughs (Naked Lunch), but have you ever checked out beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti?  Here are two snippets of poems from his classic work A Coney Island of the Mind written in 1958, that should give you a taste of this twistedly terrific 1950s poet:

From #11:

The world is a beautiful place

to be born into

if you don’t mind some people dying

all the time

or maybe only starving

some of the time

which isn’t half so bad

if it isn’t you

From Christ Climbed Down:

Christ climbed down

from His bare Tree

this year

and ran away to where

no intrepid Bible salesmen

covered the territory

in two-tone cadillacs

and where no Sears Roebuck creches

complete with plastic babe in manger

arrived by parcel post

the babe by special delivery

and where no televised Wise Men

praised the Lord Calvert Whiskey

Now, some of Ferlinghetti’s poems feel very dated (get ready for a heavy does of “hep cat” lingo) and some of his poems are filled with literary references that make them accessible only to the most well-read of the literati.  But then some of his poems really hit at something, some intangible frustration intermingling with the joy of being alive.  Give it a try if you’re looking for some new (and decidedly unusual) poetry.