Monday, 25 February 2013

Lawrence Ferlinghetti( b.24/3/19) - Poetry as Insurgent Art

Lawrence Ferlinghetti I consider to be  one of my favorite poets, a legend who in 1953, founded the City Lights bookstore.A prominent voice of the wide-open poetry movement that began in the 1950s, he has written poetry, translation, fiction, theater, art criticism, film narration and essays. Often concerned with politics and social issues. His work countered the literary elites definition of art and the artists role in the world. Though  imbued with the commonplace, his poetry cannot be simply described as polemic  or personal protest, for  it stands  on his craftmanship, thematics and grounding in tradition. Born in Yonkers, New York in 1919 , an activist whose beats still goes on, still brave enough and daring to challenge peoples beliefs, a painter too, but still active as a poet 90 plus years young. His life  has seen him act as a catalyst for numerous literary careers and for the Beat movement itself, publishing the eaerly work of Allen Ginsberg, Kerouac and Gary Snyder.
Making poetry accessible to all, with his lucid views he has long watered my senses. His bookstore quickly became an iconic literary institution that  has embodied social change and literary freedom. A truly remarkable person, and a great inspiration.
What follows is what   I would regard as his tour de force,although a work in progress, it is a a fine poetic manifesto nontheless, that  proves he's still got the edge, still got the force.His innovative poetics incorporate slang, pop cultural references wry humour to examine the human condition. Here he  shows us his purpose, I guess its up to us to do it ourselves.

I am signalling you through the flames.

The North Pole is not where it used to be.

Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest.

Civilisation self-destructs.

Nemesis is knocking at the door.

What are poets for, in such an age?
What is the use of poetry?

The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it.

If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times,
even if this meaning sounds apocalyptic.

You are Whitman, you are Poe, you are Mark Twain, you are Emily Dickinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay,
you are Neruda and Mayakovsky and Pasolini,
you arean American or an non-American, you can conquer the conqueree with words.

If you would be a poet, write living newspapers.
Be a reporter from outer space,
filing dispatches to some supreme managing editor 
who believes in full disclosure,
and has a low tolerance for bullshit.

If you would be a poet, experiment with all manner of poetic, erotic broken grammers,
ecstatc religions, heathen outpourings speaking in tongues,
bombast public speech, automatic scribblings, surrealist sensings,
streams of consiousness, found sounds, rants and raves-
to create your own limbie, your own underlying, your ur voice.

If you call yourself a poet, don't just sit there.
Poetry is mot a sedentary occupation, not a "take your seat" practice.
Stand up and let them have it.

If you would be a poet, invent a new language, anyone could understand.
If you would be apoet, speak new truths that the world can't deny.

Through art, create order out of the chaos of the living.

Make it new news.

Write beyond time.

Reinvent the idea of beauty.

Question everything and everyone, including Socrates who questioned everything.

Be subversive, constantly questioning reality and the status quo.

Strive to change the world in such a way that there's no further need to be a dissident.

Hip Hop and Rap your way to liberation.

Your poems must be more than want adds for broken hearts.

Words can save you where guns can't.

Give a voice to the tongueless street.

See the rose through world-clored glasses.

Be an eye among the blind.

Be naive, non-cynical, as if you had just landed on earth,
astonshed by what tou have fallen upon.

Dig folk singers who are the true
singing poets of yesterday and today.

Think subjectively, write objectively.

Like a field of sunflowers, a poem should not have to be explained.

Haunt bookstores.

Cultivate dissidence and critical thinking.
First though may be worst thought.

Sow your poems with the salt of the earth.

Don't ever believe poetry is irrelevant in dark times.

Make new wine out of the grapes of wrath.

Be the gadfly of the state and also its firefly.

Poetry is making something out of nothing, and can be about nothing and still mean something.

from Poetry as  Insurgent Art
New Directions Press 2007

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