Lawrence Ferlinghetti Other literary forms

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Early in his career, Lawrence Ferlinghetti (fur-lihng-GEHT-ee) was very much interested in the French Symbolist poets, and in 1958, City Lights published his first and only translation of French poetry: Selections from “Paroles” by Jacques Prévert. His translations of pieces by an Italian poet, Pier Paolo Pasolini, appeared in 1986 as Roman Poems. He has also translated poetry by Nicanor Parra in Antipoems: New and Selected (1985) and by Homero Aridjis in Eyes to See Otherwise (2002). Ferlinghetti has primarily published poetry in book form, although, in addition to having written many critical and review articles that have appeared in both magazines and newspapers, he has produced a variety of works including novels, travel writing, political writing, drawings, and plays. Ferlinghetti’s work crosses genre boundaries, and some of his prose works—like the novel Her (1960) and the travel journal The Mexican Night (1970)—sound so much like his poetry that it is questionable whether one should actually call them prose. He published another novel, Love in the Days of Rage, in 1988 and two commentaries on poetry, What Is Poetry? (2000) and Poetry as Insurgent Art (2007), the latter consisting of thoughts on poetry written over more than fifty years.

Ferlinghetti’s two plays, Unfair Arguments with Existence and Routines, were published by New Directions in 1963 and 1964, respectively. His interest in the theater and oral poetry led to various filmings and recordings of his readings. The two best-known performances of Ferlinghetti, “Tyrannus Nix?” and “Assassination Raga,” are preserved in both film and audio recording. Leaves of Life: Drawing from the Model (1983) is a collection of his drawings, as is his Life Studies, Life Stories: Eighty Works in Paper (2003).