Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dose of Culture: Lawrence Ferlinghetti

"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"

--from "Christ Climbed Down"

(So I've decided that I'll say this here and not in the comments section: even though Lawrence Ferlinghetti didn't consider himself a Beat poet (instead thinking of himself as a bohemian of an older generation), he was the first Beat publisher and in fact had obscenity charges filed against him for publishing Howl. According to FoundSF:

"When U.S. Customs released the paperback version of Howl that had been printed in London, Ferlinghetti and his partner, Shigeyosi Murao, were arrested by San Francisco police on obscenity charges. One newspaper headline read: "Cops Don't Allow No Renaissance Here." After a long trial (covered in a Life Magazine picture story) in which poets, critics, and academics testified to the redeeming social value of Howl, it was ruled not obscene and City Lights was exonerated. The decision that was handed down in the Howl obscenity trial led to the American publication of the previously censored Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller and D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterly's Lover. The trials publicity brought the San Francisco Beat Movement into the national spotlight and inspired many would-be poets and seekers to make their way out to the West Coast."

I freaking love that kind of thing--sticking it to the man, etc. When are all of us going to get together and start our own literary revolution? Come on, guys, "I Am Waiting.")

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