FERLINGHETTI’S GREATEST POEMS
By Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Edited by Nancy J. Peters.
144 pp. New Directions. $16.95.
ONE DAY WHEN I was about 14 or 15 and wandering the aisles of a bookstore in Southern California, my eyes were drawn to “Endless Life,” a collection of poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I grew up in a conservative household in an even more conservative neighborhood, and I doubt I’d had any exposure, up till that point, to Ferlinghetti and his transcontinental, transcendental comrades known as the Beats. All I knew, as I flipped through the book, was that the words were bouncing around the page:
What is this? I thought. Why is this guy allowed to write that way? To a teenager with an inchoate interest in language, those leaping lines conveyed a swig of freedom:
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