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Happy 92nd birthday, Lawrence Ferlinghetti!

March 24, 2011 |  6:12 pm

Lawrenceferlinghetti_2000

And to think we almost missed it. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, founder of City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, the man without whom the Beat Generation might never have found its voice, turns 92 today. Happy birthday, Lawrence Ferlinghetti!

Ferlinghetti's bookstore and publishing house were essential to the Beat movement. He published Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" in 1956, and stood by it as censorship battles rages through the courts. "It is not the poet but what he observes which is revealed as obscene," he wrote at the time. "The great obscene wasters of 'Howl' are the sad wastes of the mechanized world, lost among atom bombs and insane nationalisms."

Ferlinghetti welcomed Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady and their compatriots for readings and literary conversation, making San Francisco a beacon for those seeking an alternative to the constrictions of 1950s culture.

Ferlinghetti himself is a poet, known best, perhaps, for his collection "A Coney Island of the Mind." With City Lights -- both the bookstore and the publisher -- still going strong, it's clear that he's been an incredible force in creating the literary culture of the West Coast.

Happy 92nd birthday, Lawrence Ferlinghetti!

RELATED:

Happy 90th birthday, Lawrence Ferlinghetti!

The Beat goes on: Ferlinghetti in 2005

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Lawrence Ferlinghetti at City Lights books in 2000. Credit: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times

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