Lawrence Ferlinghetti Reads A Coney Island Of The Mind – December 12, 1956 – SFSU Poetry Center Digital Archives –
With the sad, although somewhat inevitable news that Poet, Publisher and Political iconoclast Lawrence Ferlinghetti left the earth plane earlier today at age 101, it struck home that one more giant, one more unflinching beacon of light has gone out and the void we are left with won’t be filled any lifetime soon.
Those of us who discovered Ferlinghetti, along with Ginsburg, Corso and Kerouac as teenagers in high school, and who committed, almost to memory A Coney Island Of The Mind and who made our pilgrimages to City Lights Bookstore – along with everything else that helped define the 60s, felt an indebtedness for the vision, the spirit of purpose and the beauty of words we were given freely as a gift.
Although the Beat Generation grew and blossomed almost a decade before us, we felt a kinship to that movement throughout the 1960s – it helped shape and support our own journey and it was much-much bigger than the broad stroke stereotypes suggested for the period by those who didn’t understand – gave us comfort from the derision and ridicule – made it okay to think differently and to not be afraid to look at the world as it is, but to be part of the change and part of the solution.
As way of tribute, or maybe introduction to what it was that influenced us so much and turned our heads around, here is Lawrence Ferlinghetti reading A Coney Island Of The Mind, from December 12, 1956 at a public reading and preserved by San Francisco State University’s Poetry Center Digital Archives.
As someone said, Lawrence Ferlinghetti left a legacy that will be with us for a very long time – there is comfort in that. Right now, at this moment, there is an overwhelming gratitude that it happened and we caught wind of it, made the decision to explore, were assured it was okay. Discovered to our amazement that it was.
Life is truly-truly an adventure. Ultimately, it ain’t half-bad.