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Poetry as Insurgent Art

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In 1953 Lawrence Ferlinghetti founded the first paperback bookstore in the United States. In over five decades City Lights, the bookstore and publisher, has become a Mecca for millions. Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind (ND, 1958) is a number one best-selling volume of poetry by any living American poet. Now, New Directions is proud to publish his manifesto in a paperb In 1953 Lawrence Ferlinghetti founded the first paperback bookstore in the United States. In over five decades City Lights, the bookstore and publisher, has become a Mecca for millions. Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind (ND, 1958) is a number one best-selling volume of poetry by any living American poet. Now, New Directions is proud to publish his manifesto in a paperback edition.


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In 1953 Lawrence Ferlinghetti founded the first paperback bookstore in the United States. In over five decades City Lights, the bookstore and publisher, has become a Mecca for millions. Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind (ND, 1958) is a number one best-selling volume of poetry by any living American poet. Now, New Directions is proud to publish his manifesto in a paperb In 1953 Lawrence Ferlinghetti founded the first paperback bookstore in the United States. In over five decades City Lights, the bookstore and publisher, has become a Mecca for millions. Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind (ND, 1958) is a number one best-selling volume of poetry by any living American poet. Now, New Directions is proud to publish his manifesto in a paperback edition.

30 review for Poetry as Insurgent Art

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    i will not walk this path with you Ferlinghetti, i will not swallow your self-aware self- important sense of self- worth as you swear in so many words the world will be saved by poetry. and i spent summers in sweltering coffeehouses with cigarette smoke dense and packed as the words of amateur after amateur patting the backs of other amateurs in an amateur display of "we are poet, hear us roar," but i will i will not walk this path with you Ferlinghetti, i will not swallow your self-aware self- important sense of self- worth as you swear in so many words the world will be saved by poetry. and i spent summers in sweltering coffeehouses with cigarette smoke dense and packed as the words of amateur after amateur patting the backs of other amateurs in an amateur display of "we are poet, hear us roar," but i will not swallow this splenda-made sweetness that poetry is saving the world. i won't swallow that kool-aid. i remember in cloewes hall in 2000, your grip on a starbucks vente, as you preached the evils of autos and corporations as you pushed your sequel to your most successful book so snidely. now your pint-sized collection of pretensions previously published and stale on the shelf cancels out its message by its existence. if you believed these words, they wouldn't be printed in limited edition and signed and sold, they'd be echoing across internets. they'd be screaming from graffittied walls and they'd be tattooed across your bookstore. so, i will not walk that path with you, that dead end path of poetry being the salvation of this country. salvation is protest in the streets. salvation is blocked intersections and the intersections of ideas in genuine debate, salvation is in escaping the screaming heads that pretend to communicate on television. salvation is not poetry. it is the feminists who insist the way we think about thinking is wrong, salvation is somewhere beyond that place where we think differently. salvation doesn't wear tweed and read from old yellowed pages. salvation doesn't produce postcards, it can't be sold for 12.95 to fauxrevolutionaries and tourists with fanniepacks taking pictures next to cardboard ginsbergs. i've seen good minds of my generation distracted by pseudophilosophical bullshit by spouting slam on stages, their rage flayed upon appearance because every mother- fucker in the room already agrees. i've seen them muted by their chap-books that sit in piles of rebellion unbought on apartment floors. i've seen some of the good minds of my generation in bland rebellions by bong and by song but rebellions don't stay in apartments on couches under marley flags. rebellions don't simmer in coffeehouses before pouring out momentarily satiated into apathetic streets. poetry is a non-rebellion when it doesn't invade the vision of those who don't want to see it. you snidely look down your nose at academics who place thoughts of doubt like seeds in minds while you stew in your own juices and make money off echoes of your revolution that is over. the revolution won't hold tight to reveries of the past. it won't fear the internet; it won't run from technology. the revolution will be in minutea, as every generation is less locked into the fears of the past, as gay is legalized, as more people realize how this country treats other countries, as more eyes open to injustice. Howard Zinn's prose (which you look down upon) opens eyes. The web opens eyes as we see further, learn faster, travel the globe in seconds, as it becomes closer and closer to impossible to deny we're all human and no one is "other." you sung the song of the revolution, ferlinghetti, but now your revolution is rapidly aging. get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Khashayar Mohammadi

    An intriguing and ironically inspiring book of essay-poems which address the most prevalent problems with the medium of Poetry. The book is quite eccentric and Niche and I doubt if it'll appeal to any non-poet or non-writer; but I strongly recommend it to anyone who has ever written and performed poetry.

  3. 5 out of 5

    mwpm

    I am signalling you through the flames. The North Pole is not where it used to be. Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest. Civilization self-destructs. Nemesis is knocking at the door. What are poets for, in such an age? What is the use of poetry? (pg. 3) So begins "Poetry As Insurgent Art", the first of three pieces that make up this short collection of meditations/reflections on the nature of poetry. "Poetry As Insurgent Art" asks qu I am signalling you through the flames. The North Pole is not where it used to be. Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest. Civilization self-destructs. Nemesis is knocking at the door. What are poets for, in such an age? What is the use of poetry? (pg. 3) So begins "Poetry As Insurgent Art", the first of three pieces that make up this short collection of meditations/reflections on the nature of poetry. "Poetry As Insurgent Art" asks questions, such as "What are poets for, in such an age? What is the use of poetry?", and provides a number of answers, some of them conflicting, answers such as... 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. (pg. 4) If you call yourself a poet, don't just sit there. Poetry is not a sedentary occupation, not a "take your seat" practice. Stand up and let them have it. (pg. 5) Through art, create order out of the chaos of living. (pg. 7) Your images in a poem should be jamais vu, not déjà vu. (pg. 10) Your life is your poetry. If you have no heart, you'll write heartless poetry. (pg. 16) Don't be so open-minded that your brains fall out. (pg. 20) Don't slip on the banana peel of nihilism, even while listening to the roar of Nothingness. (pg. 25) If you have nothing to say, don't say it. (pg. 28) Don't destroy the world unless you have something better to replace it. (pg. 30) At times Ferlinghetti acknowledges his contradictions, as when he asks: "Can you imagine Shelley attending a poetry workshop?" followed by: "Yet poetry workshops may create communities of poetic kinship in heartland America where many may feel lonely and lost for lack of kindred souls." (pg. 18). Other times, Ferlinghetti's contradictions are less obvious, as when he states: "Don't fiddle with your moustache in hopeless cellars, writing incomprehensible drivel." (pg. 26) despite having already stated: "If you would be a poet, experiment with all manner of poetics, erotic broken grammars, ecstatic religions, heathen outpourings speaking in tongues bombast public speech, automatic scribblings, surrealist sensing streams of consciousness, found sounds, rants and raves - to create your own limbic, your own underlying voice, your ur voice." (pg. 4-5) This may be an oversight by the poet, or it may be that he's succumbed to the staunchness of the status quo. But I would like to believe that he is testing the reader. Earlier, Ferlinghetti states "Be subversive, constantly questioning reality and the status quo." (pg. 8) By aligning himself with the "status quo", Ferlinghetti is teaching the reader to question everyone - everyone, including the person telling you to question everyone. "What is Poetry", the second of the three pieces, follows in the footsteps of the first piece. Whereas "Poetry As Insurgent Art" sought to provide a broader spectrum of questions and answers regarding poetry, "What is Poetry?" seeks only to answer the titular question, and, when possible, to answer it poetically... Poetry is the truth that reveals all lies, the face without mascara. (pg. 35) Words wait to be reborn in the shadow of the lamp of poetry. (pg. 36) Poetry a naked woman, a naked man, and the distance between them. (pg. 38) Poetry the shortest distance between two humans. (pg. 40) Poetry is worth nothing and therefore priceless. (pg. 48) It hears the whispers of elephants. (pg. 51) Poetry destroys the bad breath of machines. (pg. 61) Poetry an innate urge toward truth and beauty. (pg. 62) It is the ultimate Resistance. (pg. 65) There are moments when Ferlinghetti becomes unexpectedly political. These moments feel somewhat out of place in the context of what is otherwise a light collection of playful pieces... Have a good laugh a those who tell you poets are misfits or potential terrorists and a danger to the state. (pg. 27) The war against the imagination is not the only war. Using the 9/11 Twin Towers disaster as an excuse, America has initiated the Third World War, which is the War against the Third World. (pg. 59) Dissident poetry is not UnAmerican. (pg. 66) The third part of Poetry As Insurgent Art, entitled "Forethoughts", is divided into three parts, three pieces written by Ferlinghetti in the late 1970s: "Populist Manifesto #1" and "Populist Manifesto #2", in which Ferlinghetti issues a call-to-arms in the wake of the public's waning interest in poetry; and "Modern Poetry is Prose", in which Ferlinghetti is critical of what he considers to be "the dumbest conspiracy of silence in the history of letters" - that is, prose masquerading as poetry... Poets, come out of your closets, Open your windows, open your doors, You have been holed-up too long in your closed worlds. Come down, come down from your Russian Hills and Telegraph Hills, your Beacon Hills and your Chapel Hills, your Mount Analogues and Montparnasses, down from your foothills and mountains, out of your teepees and domes. The trees are still falling and we’ll to the woods no more. No time now for sitting in them As man burns down his own house to roast his pig No more chanting Hare Krishna while Rome burns. San Francisco’s burning, Mayakovsky’s Moscow’s burning the fossil-fuels of life. Night & the Horse approaches eating light, heat & power, and the clouds have trousers. No time now for the artist to hide above, beyond, behind the scenes, indifferent, paring his fingernails, refining himself out of existence. No time now for our little literary games, no time now for our paranoias & hypochondrias, no time now for fear & loathing, time now only for light & love. We have seen the best minds of our generation destroyed by boredom at poetry readings. Poetry isn’t a secret society, It isn’t a temple either. Secret words & chants won’t do any longer. The hour of oming is over, the time of keening come, a time for keening & rejoicing over the coming end of industrial civilization which is bad for earth & Man. Time now to face outward in the full lotus position with eyes wide open, Time now to open your mouths with a new open speech, time now to communicate with all sentient beings, All you ‘Poets of the Cities’ hung in museums including myself, All you poet’s poets writing poetry about poetry, All you poetry workshop poets in the boondock heart of America, All you housebroken Ezra Pounds, All you far-out freaked-out cut-up poets, All you pre-stressed Concrete poets, All you cunnilingual poets, All you pay-toilet poets groaning with graffiti, All you A-train swingers who never swing on birches, All you masters of the sawmill haiku in the Siberias of America, All you eyeless unrealists, All you self-occulting supersurrealists, All you bedroom visionaries and closet agitpropagators, All you Groucho Marxist poets and leisure-class Comrades who lie around all day and talk about the workingclass proletariat, All you Catholic anarchists of poetry, All you Black Mountaineers of poetry, All you Boston Brahims and Bolinas bucolics, All you den mothers of poetry, All you zen brothers of poetry, All you suicide lovers of poetry, All you hairy professors of poesie, All you poetry reviewers drinking the blood of the poet, All you Poetry Police - Where are Whitman’s wild children, where the great voices speaking out with a sense of sweetness and sublimity, where the great’new vision, the great world-view, the high prophetic song of the immense earth and all that sings in it And our relations to it - Poets, descend to the street of the world once more And open your minds & eyes with the old visual delight, Clear your throat and speak up, Poetry is dead, long live poetry with terrible eyes and buffalo strength. Don’t wait for the Revolution or it’ll happen without you, Stop mumbling and speak out with a new wide-open poetry with a new commonsensual ‘public surface’ with other subjective levels or other subversive levels, a tuning fork in the inner ear to strike below the surface. Of your own sweet Self still sing yet utter ‘the word en-masse - Poetry the common carrier for the transportation of the public to higher places than other wheels can carry it. Poetry still falls from the skies into our streets still open. They haven’t put up the barricades, yet, the streets still alive with faces, lovely men & women still walking there, still lovely creatures everywhere, in the eyes of all the secret of all still buried there, Whitman’s wild children still sleeping there, Awake and walk in the open air. - Populist Manifesto #1 (pg. 69-75) And the nightingales may still be singing near the Convent of the Sacred Heart, but we can hardly hear them in the city waste lands of T. S. Eliot, nor in his Four Quartets (which can't be played on any instrument and yet is the most beautiful prose of our time). Nor in the prose wastes of Ezra Pound's Cantos which aren't canti because they couldn't possibly be sung. Nor in the pangolin prose of Marianne Moore (who called her writing poetry for lack of anything better to call it). Nor in the great prose blank verse of Karl Shapiro's Essays on Rime, nor in the outer city speech of William Carlos Williams, in the flat-out speech of his Paterson. All of which is applauded by poetry professors and poetry reviewers in all the best places, none of whom will commit the original sin of saying some poet's poetry is prose in the typography of poetry - just as the poet's friends will never tell him, just as the poet's editor will never say it - the dumbest conspiracy of silence in the history of letters. - Modern Poetry is Prose (pg. 88-89)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I read this largely to be inspired during such a time of depression (2016 Rep/Dem conventions). At a minimum, Ferlinghetti imagines an entirely different world and does not meekly accept the crap we are being offered.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Richard Subber

    I’m ignoring the Socialist activist thing in Ferlinghetti’s past. It’s really old news and it’s dull news—socialism isn’t and never was a clear and present danger in America, because the debilitating capitalist mentality and reality is entrenched. Moving on to Ferlinghetti’s poetry: I confess I haven’t read a lot of it. I tried his Poetry as Insurgent Art (2007) and it didn’t leave me panting for more. Much of it is a collection of one-liners, like “If you have nothing to say, don’t sa I’m ignoring the Socialist activist thing in Ferlinghetti’s past. It’s really old news and it’s dull news—socialism isn’t and never was a clear and present danger in America, because the debilitating capitalist mentality and reality is entrenched. Moving on to Ferlinghetti’s poetry: I confess I haven’t read a lot of it. I tried his Poetry as Insurgent Art (2007) and it didn’t leave me panting for more. Much of it is a collection of one-liners, like “If you have nothing to say, don’t say it” and “Come out of your closet. It’s dark in there.” Forsooth. My takeaway from Poetry as Insurgent Art is that Ferlinghetti is in love with his own careless spontaneity. I certainly acknowledge that some readers may view this work as the outpouring of a driven great spirit. Different strokes… I think it is the slough of a generous but disconnected artist’s talent with words. Ferlinghetti says “Don’t be so open-minded that your brains fall out.” Them’s words to live by, I guess… Here’s my advice to M. Ferlinghetti: Don’t be so open-minded that there’s nothing you won’t write. Poetry as Insurgent Art is much too ordinary to be insurgent. Take it from Walt Whitman, you need a bit of “barbaric yawp” to do insurgent poetry. Read more of my book reviews and my poetry here: http://richardsubber.com/

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Johnson

    I enjoyed every page of Ferlinghetti’s manifesto on poetry, and though I don’t agree with every stance he takes, I appreciate the passion with which he writes. I guess I also just love good poems. I like poetry for the same reason I like well-written fantasy novels: they each reveal—in their own, exceedingly different ways—truths about our world by taking us outside of ourselves and our reality. Ferlinghetti says it beautifully: “A true poem can create a divine stillness in the world./ It is mad I enjoyed every page of Ferlinghetti’s manifesto on poetry, and though I don’t agree with every stance he takes, I appreciate the passion with which he writes. I guess I also just love good poems. I like poetry for the same reason I like well-written fantasy novels: they each reveal—in their own, exceedingly different ways—truths about our world by taking us outside of ourselves and our reality. Ferlinghetti says it beautifully: “A true poem can create a divine stillness in the world./ It is made with the syllables of dreams.” Give this a read if you’re looking for something both political (hello, 1970’s!) and at times delicately beautiful.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Fatima

    didn’t expect to like it but picked it up regardless. (mostly because of how small it was). safe to day i didnt love it but it definitely had some parts that a truly enjoyed. 3.5 stars

  8. 4 out of 5

    Frank Karioris

    Yes. Need this. Read this.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dustin Reade

    meh. repetitive. contradictory. but well written. even beautiful at times. rambling. pretentious. poetic. meh. i am not following Ferlinghetti down this particular rabbit hole.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Estella

    The book is several manifestos stitched together, Ferlinghetti's work in progress. The first two sections, "Poetry as Insurgent Art" and "What is Poetry?" are poetic lists of imperative statements. For me, these are hit-or-miss; the hits are comfort food for poets or heart-stopping leaps of metaphor; the misses are clichés or annoying puns. The book is irresistibly quotable. Now, the manifestos that follow (written in the '70s) are watered-down Ginsberg to me. A sad thing. The book is several manifestos stitched together, Ferlinghetti's work in progress. The first two sections, "Poetry as Insurgent Art" and "What is Poetry?" are poetic lists of imperative statements. For me, these are hit-or-miss; the hits are comfort food for poets or heart-stopping leaps of metaphor; the misses are clichés or annoying puns. The book is irresistibly quotable. Now, the manifestos that follow (written in the '70s) are watered-down Ginsberg to me. A sad thing. These make Ferlinghetti's romantic and ambitious imperatives self-contradictory. But the last essay, "Modern Poetry is Prose" I'd like to discuss with someone. Ferlinghetti claims T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, etc. have written prose in poetic typography. That this is a symptom of a "technocratic civilization". That this prose doesn't sing like the poetry of Blake, Whitman, Stevens, Hughes, and Ginsberg. And that critics are in silence about it. To Ferlinghetti, modern poetry is prose - beautiful prose, clear prose, but prose all the same. What do you think? I think the poetry/prose discussion is a sticky one, one perhaps not worth taking the time to fret over, if we're not drooling academics. But I think the more important question to ask is whether or not something essential to poetry has been lost in the post-industrial age. I like to believe that it has not, but I may read with that question in mind for a little while.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Renee Alberts

    Part desiderata, part manifesto, this quotable book is a prose poem about the importance of poetry. In four prose poems and a brief essay, its quips vary from rebellious: “Strive to change the world in such a way that there’s no further need to be a dissident”; to patently Ferlinghetti comparisons to classic art and canonic literature: “Poetry can be heard at manholes, echoing up Dante’s fire escape; to koan-like statements. Also, there are lots of birds. For anyone who needs to be convinced of Part desiderata, part manifesto, this quotable book is a prose poem about the importance of poetry. In four prose poems and a brief essay, its quips vary from rebellious: “Strive to change the world in such a way that there’s no further need to be a dissident”; to patently Ferlinghetti comparisons to classic art and canonic literature: “Poetry can be heard at manholes, echoing up Dante’s fire escape; to koan-like statements. Also, there are lots of birds. For anyone who needs to be convinced of the vitality of art’s resistance or to be encouraged to pursue the struggle for vitality in life and expression, this little book of poetic affirmations will be a joy to read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    I really wanted to like this book. I loved "A Coney Island of the Mind." It starts as a bunch of short lines about poetry in general. Some of which are interesting at even at times beautiful. The lines are much like what Jack Kerouac describes as tics. I found myself earmarking a few of the Ferlinghetti lines early on and toward the middle of the short collection. Then I found many lines which actually made me mad and that seemed hypocritical. I suppose the book was a success for Ferlinghetti as I really wanted to like this book. I loved "A Coney Island of the Mind." It starts as a bunch of short lines about poetry in general. Some of which are interesting at even at times beautiful. The lines are much like what Jack Kerouac describes as tics. I found myself earmarking a few of the Ferlinghetti lines early on and toward the middle of the short collection. Then I found many lines which actually made me mad and that seemed hypocritical. I suppose the book was a success for Ferlinghetti as he probably wanted to cause reactions with his writing, unfortunately for me the overall reaction was unsatisfied.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Neil McCrea

    I used to think of Ferlinghetti as the least interesting of the Beats, but I'm coming around to seeing him as a much needed Apollonian influence to all the divine madness of his peers. This book is a slender volume containing aphorisms, poetry and an essay all revolving around the importance of poetry. If I had read this book as a young man it would have lit quite the fire under my ass and I'm sure that my writing would have been all the better for it. Even though I first read it at a I used to think of Ferlinghetti as the least interesting of the Beats, but I'm coming around to seeing him as a much needed Apollonian influence to all the divine madness of his peers. This book is a slender volume containing aphorisms, poetry and an essay all revolving around the importance of poetry. If I had read this book as a young man it would have lit quite the fire under my ass and I'm sure that my writing would have been all the better for it. Even though I first read it at a calcified middle age, I still get sparks from it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christina M Rau

    When I saw Lawrence Ferlinghetti at the Y, I tried to make a memory that included every single sound he uttered. I found Poetry As Insurgent Art on the poetry shelf at the library, and it all came flooding back to me. The book is tiny. It fits in a pocket. It has short thoughts about what poetry is. The thoughts have been developed over many years. It's simple. It's stunning. It's truth. It makes you think in short sentences, too. It's still in progress. It's ironic. It's funny. It's sad. It's s When I saw Lawrence Ferlinghetti at the Y, I tried to make a memory that included every single sound he uttered. I found Poetry As Insurgent Art on the poetry shelf at the library, and it all came flooding back to me. The book is tiny. It fits in a pocket. It has short thoughts about what poetry is. The thoughts have been developed over many years. It's simple. It's stunning. It's truth. It makes you think in short sentences, too. It's still in progress. It's ironic. It's funny. It's sad. It's serious. It's Ferlinghetti at his finest.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Vivienne

    I have read this book over and over and over. You can tell, because I have underlined, highlighted, and written in the margins in about four different colors at this point. This is easily one of my most beloved books. Every time I pick it up, I end up losing myself in it. Someday, I will get a Ferlinghetti tattoo and it will be wonderful. Perhaps the most wonderful part of this is how much my students responded to the excerpts I had them read. For the most part, they loved it, and a l I have read this book over and over and over. You can tell, because I have underlined, highlighted, and written in the margins in about four different colors at this point. This is easily one of my most beloved books. Every time I pick it up, I end up losing myself in it. Someday, I will get a Ferlinghetti tattoo and it will be wonderful. Perhaps the most wonderful part of this is how much my students responded to the excerpts I had them read. For the most part, they loved it, and a lot of them asked if they could have more. Ferlinghetti is helping my students love poetry. Hell yes.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Just a little teeny tiny book (honestly--it could fit in your pocket) just full of little inspiring quips about the meaning of poetry. This little tome also includes "Populist Manifesto I and II"...It's full of activism and fire. "Poets come out of your closets..." This is like some cappucino for the creative world. Wake up!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    Interesting bits and pieces of poetry, though some felt entirely too pretentious for me. But there were a few stanzas I did thoroughly enjoy.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lyubina Yordanova

    This tiny book is full of inspirational and passionate thoughts about what poetry is. But basically is about what life should be - poetry in expression, poetry in motion, poetry in being. "I am signaling you through the flames. The North Pole is not where it used to be. Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest. Civilization 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 This tiny book is full of inspirational and passionate thoughts about what poetry is. But basically is about what life should be - poetry in expression, poetry in motion, poetry in being. "I am signaling you through the flames. The North Pole is not where it used to be. Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest. Civilization 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. If you would be a poet, discover a new way for mortals to inhabit the earth. If you would be a poet, invent a new language anyone can understand. If you would be a poet, speak new truths the world can't deny. If you would be a great poet, strive to transcribe the consciousness of the race. Through art, create order out of the chaos of living. Make it new news. Write beyond time. Reinvent the idea of truth. Reinvent the idea of beauty. In the first light, wax poetic. In the night, wax tragic. Listen to the lisp of leaves and the ripple of rain. Don’t let them tell you poetry is bullshit. Don’t let them tell you poetry is for the birds. Have a good laugh at those who tell you poets are misfits or potential terrorists and a danger to the state. Don’t let them tell you poetry is a neurosis that some people never outgrow. Laugh at those who tell you poetry is all written by the Holy Ghost and you’re just a ghost-writer. Don’t ever believe poetry is irrelevant in dark times."

  19. 4 out of 5

    Veronica Rarick

    This is a book of poetry about poetry. This is the first book of poetry that I have read by a beat poet, I picked it up at the Beat Poet Museum in San Fran when I visited and I felt I liked Ferlinghetti's poetry the best out of the beats (based off of the exhibits in the museum) so I bought this book. In retrospect I wish I had picked another book by him because while Poetry as Insurgent art was interesting it wasn't really what I was looking for. Like I said, it is a book of poetry about poetry This is a book of poetry about poetry. This is the first book of poetry that I have read by a beat poet, I picked it up at the Beat Poet Museum in San Fran when I visited and I felt I liked Ferlinghetti's poetry the best out of the beats (based off of the exhibits in the museum) so I bought this book. In retrospect I wish I had picked another book by him because while Poetry as Insurgent art was interesting it wasn't really what I was looking for. Like I said, it is a book of poetry about poetry where he essentially tries to capture the essence of what poetry is, should be, and will always be to society. While it was interesting and some parts were quite poetically put, if you will, I think that trying to write about about poetry is essentially an act of futility since you can't really describe what poetry is (which Ferlinghetti address in the book itself). So while it was still enjoyable as a first time reader I was looking more for just a book of collected poems where this is more an essay book/poem about poetry.

  20. 5 out of 5

    emma

    while i'm pretty much not on board with the "poetry will save the world" mentality for many reasons, i do still love and appreciate this book, finding myself scrawling out lines into my notebooks. i think there are very very few poets who really live into this manifesto, and so so many that believe they do. and that's a bit dangerous. this book has the ability of inspiring some writers to create meaningful, important work; but for others it has the ability to emphasize the arrogance, privilege, while i'm pretty much not on board with the "poetry will save the world" mentality for many reasons, i do still love and appreciate this book, finding myself scrawling out lines into my notebooks. i think there are very very few poets who really live into this manifesto, and so so many that believe they do. and that's a bit dangerous. this book has the ability of inspiring some writers to create meaningful, important work; but for others it has the ability to emphasize the arrogance, privilege, and pretentious entitlement while allowing them to view it as passive "activism" and capital p Poetry. but that is just the world of english majors and poets.

  21. 4 out of 5

    elena

    I go back and forth on how much I love Ferlinghetti - his poems look like zines! His poems are sort of interdisciplinary. His poems are products of the time. His poems sell themselves out. His poems are uncompromising. His poems are such beat era dude poems. But! Poetry as Insurgent Art usually gets me out of my brain funk writing rut, it is concise, it is fun, it is obnoxious. Ferlinghetti is difficult (as am I) and sometimes a lil flat (as am I), but we work for each other, like an irritatin I go back and forth on how much I love Ferlinghetti - his poems look like zines! His poems are sort of interdisciplinary. His poems are products of the time. His poems sell themselves out. His poems are uncompromising. His poems are such beat era dude poems. But! Poetry as Insurgent Art usually gets me out of my brain funk writing rut, it is concise, it is fun, it is obnoxious. Ferlinghetti is difficult (as am I) and sometimes a lil flat (as am I), but we work for each other, like an irritating uncle and an irritating niece.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rick Jones

    While this might be revelatory for someone who is not already a practicing literate or a 'creative', much of it feels repetitive and not particularly original. Occasionally a random spark will drift out from between the covers and burn you, but so much of this has been said before. While the meditations are good to remember, I am not feeling the love for this assemblage of thoughts.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sonya Dutta Choudhury

    Bring together the telling of a tale and the living voice, says Ferlinghetti. Read between the lives, and write between the lines See the rose through world coloured glasses and so many more beautiful lines ...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bjlevek

    In entirety it's a brilliant call to action for poets and would-be activists. The book is more about the definition and urgency for poetry than literal Lawrence Ferlinghetti poems. However, one will find themselves jotting down inspiring lines and sharing them with glee.

  25. 5 out of 5

    tortoise dreams

    A collection of a virtually endless single-line, aspirational definitions of poetry: "Poetry is a howl in the night" kind of thing. At first it's entertaining but gradually it becomes overwhelming, with some spot on but others less so. Better used as a source of writing prompts for young poets or as teaching prompts for creative writing classes. Best read one at a time. Maybe a nice little gift for the aspiring poet in your life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Wren

    Once again Lawrence shows you how to poet. Don't blow it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tandava Brahmachari

    Whatever you think of his style, there's a lot of food for thought in here, and much to trigger new poem ideas as well.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    It starts off strong, but ends up being 60% fortune-cookie wisdom and 20% Ferlinghetti ranting about what is and isn't poetry, and many of those attitudes are mired in sexism and entitlement.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Delgado

    A book that one will never stop reading. No matter how much one knows about poetry one knows little after reading every single page.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    Not bad if you replace his definition of “poetry” with “good writing”.

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