Our Streetlight Imaginations

Lawrence Ferlinghetti was a pioneer in the business of bookselling (City Lights was the nation's first all-paperback retailer), and he turned the literary world on its head by publishing the likes of Kerouac, Ginsberg, Cassady, Burroughs, Bukowski, and himself among others. Any good San Franciscan knows this. What we might not know is Ferlinghetti — who turned 93 in March — has never strayed from the principles that drove him and the other writers and artists of the beat movement, and he has influenced generations of writers who came after him through writing and activism. In recent years he has spoken out in support of progressive initiatives such as demolishing the Central Freeway and limiting the number of chain stores in the city. He has derided the “ludicrously named” Blue Angels and their “annual attack on the city” during Fleet Week as antithetical to the local poetic culture he helped foster. Hear from the man himself — in interviews and poetry — as well as those around him tonight in Christopher Felver’s 2009 documentary Ferlinghetti/Ferlinghetti. The film includes footage of some of the original cast members who populated North Beach in the 1940s and ’50s, as well as modern-day literary icons. Also appearing are Dennis Hopper, Gary Snyder, and Robert Scheer. The documentary makes a case for Ferlinghetti being not only an accomplished poet, author, artist, and activist, but also the most influential figure in American literature since the mid-20th century.
Tue., May 8, 7 p.m., 2012

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