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Poetry As Insurgent Art

On Lawrence Ferlinghetti's lifelong work in progress, plus a 50th-anniversary edition of A Coney Island of the Mind.

Book Digest Poetry As Insurgent Art (New Directions), a slender (90 pages), pocket-sized, clothbound volume with the title embossed on the black coverboard is a work in progress (the earliest version transcribed from a KPFA radio broadcast in the late ‘50s) by octogenarian poet patriarch Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Ferlinghetti has been amending and publishing this work intermittently throughout a lifetime of poetizing. If you need an introduction to him, his classic and much loved A Coney Island of the Mind celebrated its 50th anniversary, and is available in a new edition (including a CD). Here some choice tidbits from Insurgent Art:
“Through art, create order out of the chaos of living.”

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

“Read between the lives and write between the lines.”

“Pursue the White Whale but don’t harpoon it. Catch its song instead.”
And here are more:
“What times are these? Silence and horrors.”

“Create works for apocalyptic times.”

“Write living newspapers.”

“The lisp of leaves.”

“A lyric poet must rise above sounds found in the alphabet soup of language poetry.”

“Do you have the mad sound?”

“Compose on the tongue.”

“A poem should not have to be explained.”

“Imagine Shelley at a workshop?”

“Catch its song.”

Liberate, exactly!
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