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San Francisco Poems

San Francisco Poems - Lawrence Ferlinghetti 73 pages of writing and 15 black and white photographs.

The first and longest piece is his 1998 inaugural address as poet laureate of San Francisco. He mixes silly left-wing rants (against the Navy, against automobiles, against chain stores) with a few short poems and some proposals for the city. He recommends the work of several poets: Homer, Shakespeare, Yeats, Neruda, Ginsberg, Cummings, Kenneth Rexroth, Marianne Moore, Kenneth Patchen, Adrienne Rich, etc.

"Challenges To Young Poets" is more like a list than a poem. But it's an interesting piece, even if he doesn't always follow his own advice.

There are passages in the five-page "The Old Italians Dying" where he's clearly found his groove. but the poem as a whole is less impressive.

"The Artist" is an interesting piece - a statement on the art scene, with an unusual rhyme scheme.

"The Changing Light" and "Yachts In Sun" are my favorite poems in the collection that are San Francisco specific.

The fifteen photos range from 1956 to 1995, though six are from 1980-1981. Included are pictures of Ferlinghetti with Burroughs, Ginsberg, Corso, and at Kerouac's grave. (Not endorsing the publication of the latter photo, merely reporting it.)

Not every piece focuses on San Francisco. I'm a bit surprised by this, considering how long he has lived there. Also, it's a relatively short collection when stripped of the inaugural address and the photos. So the quality of the pieces could have been better.

I leave you with these lines:

We have seen the best minds of our generation
destroyed by boredom at poetry readings
- "Inaugural Address"

Think long thoughts in short sentences. - "Challenges To Young Poets"