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Poetry As Insurgent Art

Hardcover Book
New Directions
May, 2009
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Banyen's Description: 

Birdsong is not made by machines. Give your poem wings to fly to the treetops.

After a lifetime, this (r)evolutionary little book is still a work in progress, the poet’s ars poetica, to which at 88 he is constantly adding.

Your language must sing, with or without rhyme, to justify it being in the typography of poetry.

This collection of remarks, aphorisms and exhortations about the nature and purpose of poetry—eternal verities (small epics) in the street lingo of our times—began in the late 1950s, when Ferlinghetti was just coming into his own as a Beat poet and publisher of City Lights Books.

Strive to recover the innocence of eye you had in childhood.

After 50 years of revisions and additions, these pithy utterances speak directly to the poet in each of us, calling us further out of our closets into the light, into our singing.

If you would be a poet, invent a new language anyone can understand.

He is “signaling you through the flames,” and answers his question, “What are poets for, in such an age? What is the use of poetry?” with short, beautiful, challenging, arresting sentences which stand on their own, just a few of them on each page. Strong stuff!

Poetry the common carrier

for the transportation of the public

to higher places

than other wheels can carry it.

From the groundbreaking A Coney Island of the Mind in 1958 to the “personal epic” of Americus, Book I in 2003, Lawrence Ferlinghetti has, in many books, been the poetic conscience of America. Now in Poetry As Insurgent Art, he offers, in prose, his primer of what poetry is, could be, should be. The result is by turns tender and furious, personal and political.

The poet by definition is the bearer of Eros and love and freedom and thus the natural-born non-violent enemy of the State.

If you are a reader of poetry, find out what is missing from the usual fare you are served; if you are a poet, read at your own risk—you will never again look at your role in the same way.

Poetry is a quiver on the skin of eternity.

It is the street talk of angels and devils…

Poetry the last lighthouse in rising seas.

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