March 18, 2014
Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s travel journals to be published
by Andrew McGrath
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet, co-founder of City Lights Bookstore, and publisher of some of most important works of the Beat movement, has sold travel journals covering sixty years of his life to Liveright Publishing. The New York Times reported on Sunday that Sterling Lord, who also represents Jack Kerouac’s estate, made the sale for Ferlinghetti, who is 94.
Ferlinghetti was born in Yonkers in 1919 and studied at UNC Chapel Hill before serving in the Navy in World War II. He went on receive his Master’s degree from Columbia University and his Doctoral Degree from the University of Paris. In 1953, he co-founded City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco as a gathering place for avant-garde writers in the area. Through the bookstore’s publishing arm, poets like Allen Ginsberg were introduced to the public; in 1956 Ferlinghetti was arrested on obscenity charges for publishing Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems, leading to the infamous trial over the book, which Ferlinghetti won.
Over the years, Ferlinghetti met and befriended most of the major figures of the Beat Generation and was even featured in Kerouac’s Big Sur as the character Lorenzo Monsanto. Ferlinghetti was also a writer; his poetry collection A Coney Island of the Mind was published by New Directions in 1958 and has since sold over one million copies.
The new book will be titled Writing Across the Landscape: Travel Journals (1950 – 2013). It not only covers previously unseen material from Ferlinghetti’s travels, but also incorporates his two previous, now out-of-print travel books, The Mexican Night and Seven Days in Nicaragua Libre. Other travels covered in the book include trips to Cuba during the Cuban Revolution and Ferlinghetti’s time in the Soviet Union for the 1968 Writer’s Congress. Ferlinghetti also met a wide range of literary figures during his travels, including Ezra Pound and Pablo Neruda; these meetings are documented in the book as well. The book is set to be published in September, 2015.