Lawrence Ferlinghetti dead: San Francisco poet, bookseller was 101
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the San Francisco poet, publisher and bookseller who played a leading role in West Coast literary history as a champion of Beat writer Allen Ginsberg and co-founder of the legendary City Lights bookstore, has died at his Bay Area home.
Ferlinghetti died Monday evening, according to Starr Sutherland, a friend who is working on a documentary on the fabled bookstore. The cause was interstitial lung disease, his son Lorenzo told the Associated Press . Ferlinghetti was 101.
Ferlinghetti and a partner launched City Lights as the country’s first all-paperback bookstore in 1953, when Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and other East Coast Beats began adding their woolly voices to the literary renaissance unfolding in San Francisco.
The bookshop — renowned for its bohemian atmosphere and vast collections of international poetry, fiction, progressive political journals and magazines — soon spawned a literary press, which in 1956 published Ginsberg’s controversial epic poem, “Howl.”
Ferlinghetti stood trial for selling “Howl” in a precedent-setting 1st Amendment case, in which the judge found that Ginsberg’s profanity-laced work had “redeeming social significance” and therefore was not …
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