|Birth Day:||March 24, 1919|
|Birth Place:||Bronxville, United States|
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He was raised as Lawrence Ferling; Ferlinghetti learned his true surname only when he had to track down his birth certificate for the purpose of U.S. Navy enlistment.
Lawrence Monsanto Ferlinghetti was born on March 24, 1919, in Yonkers, New York. Shortly before Lawrence's birth, his father, Carlo, a native of Brescia, died of a heart attack. His mother, Clemence Albertine (née Mendes-Monsanto), of Sephardic Jewish descent, was committed to a mental hospital shortly afterward. He was raised by an aunt, and later by foster parents. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he earned a B.A. in journalism in 1941. He began his career in journalism by writing sports for The Daily Tar Heel, and he published his first short stories in Carolina Magazine, for which Thomas Wolfe had written.
Ferlinghetti met his future wife, Selden Kirby-Smith, granddaughter of Edmund Kirby-Smith, in 1946 aboard a ship en route to France. They both were heading to Paris to study at the Sorbonne. Kirby-Smith went by the name Kirby.
Following service in the U.S. Navy throughout World War II, Ferlinghetti earned a master's degree in English literature from Columbia University in 1947 with a thesis on John Ruskin and the British painter J. M. W. Turner. From Columbia, he went to Paris to continue his studies and earned a doctoral degree in comparative literature with a dissertation on the city as a symbol in modern poetry.
Soon after settling in San Francisco in 1950, Ferlinghetti met the poet Kenneth Rexroth, whose concepts of philosophical anarchism influenced his political development. He self-identifies as a philosophical anarchist, regularly associated with other anarchists in North Beach, and he sold Italian anarchist newspapers at the City Lights Bookstore. A critic of U.S. foreign policy, Ferlinghetti has taken a stand against totalitarianism and war. While Ferlinghetti has said he is "an anarchist at heart", he concedes that the world would need to be populated by "saints" in order for pure anarchism to be lived practically. Hence he espouses what can be achieved by Scandinavian-style democratic socialism.
The Italian band Timoria dedicated the song "Ferlinghetti Blues" (from the album El Topo Grand Hotel) to the poet, where Ferlinghetti recites one of his poems. Recordings of Ferlinghetti reading want ads, as featured on radio station KPFA in 1957, were recorded by Henry Jacobs and are featured on the Meat Beat Manifesto album 'At the Center'. Ferlinghetti gave Canadian punk band Propagandhi permission to use his painting The Unfinished Flag of the United States, which features a map of the world painted in the stars and stripes, as the cover of their 2001 release Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes. Before this, the same painting was used for the cover of Michael Parenti's 1995 book, Against Empire, which was published by City Lights.
On January 14, 1967, he was a featured presenter at the Gathering of the tribes "Human Be-In," which drew tens of thousands of people and launched San Francisco's "Summer of Love." In 1968, he signed the "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest" pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.
The Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps's 2008 marching show was entitled "Constantly Risking Absurdity", with movements entitled after various lines in Ferlinghetti's poem. The corps took second place at the Drum Corps International Finals. Aztec Two-Step is an American folk-rock band formed by Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman at a chance meeting on open stage at a Boston coffee house, the Stone Phoenix, in 1971. The band was named after a line from the poem "A Coney Island of the Mind" by Ferlinghetti. Bristol Sound band Unforscene used Ferlinghetti's poem "Pictures of the Gone World 11" (or "The World is a Beautiful Place ...") in the song "The World Is" on its 2002 album New World Disorder.
Ferlinghetti has received numerous awards, including the Los Angeles Times' Robert Kirsch Award, the BABRA Award for Lifetime Achievement, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Award for Contribution to American Arts and Letters, and the ACLU Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award. He won the Premio Taormina in 1973, and since then has been awarded the Premio Camaiore, the Premio Flaiano, the Premio Cavour, among other honors in Italy. The Career Award was conferred on October 28, 2017 at the XIV edition of the Premio di Arti Letterarie Metropoli di Torino in Turin.
In 1987, he was the initiator of the transformation of Jack Kerouac Alley, located at the side of his shop. He presented his idea to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors calling for repavement and renewal.
In 1998, in his inaugural address as Poet Laureate of San Francisco, Ferlinghetti urged San Franciscans to vote to remove a portion of the earthquake-damaged Central Freeway and replace it with a boulevard. "What destroys the poetry of a city? Automobiles destroy it, and they destroy more than the poetry. All over America, all over Europe in fact, cities and towns are under assault by the automobile, are being literally destroyed by car culture. But cities are gradually learning that they don't have to let it happen to them. Witness our beautiful new Embarcadero! And in San Francisco right now we have another chance to stop Autogeddon from happening here. Just a few blocks from here, the ugly Central Freeway can be brought down for good if you vote for Proposition E on the November ballot." The result was Octavia Boulevard.
Ferlinghetti was named San Francisco's Poet Laureate in August 1998 and served for two years. In 2003 he was awarded the Robert Frost Memorial Medal, the Author's Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, and he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2003. The National Book Foundation honored him with the inaugural Literarian Award (2005), given for outstanding service to the American literary community. In 2007 he was named Commandeur, French Order of Arts and Letters. In 2008, Ferlinghetti was awarded the John Ciardi Award for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry. This award is handed out by the National Italian American Foundation to honor the author who has made the greatest contribution to the writing of Italian American poetry.
Ferlinghetti recited the poem Loud Prayer at The Band's final performance. The concert was filmed by Martin Scorsese and released as a documentary entitled The Last Waltz, which included Ferlinghetti's recitation. Julio Cortázar, in his Rayuela (Hopscotch) (1963) references a poem from A Coney Island of the Mind in Chapter 121. He appears as himself in the 2006 comedy film The Darwin Awards. Bob Dylan used Ferlinghetti's "Baseball Canto" on the Baseball show of Theme Time Radio Hour. Roger McGuinn, the former leader of the Byrds, referred to Ferlinghetti and "A Coney Island of the Mind" in his song "Russian Hill", from his 1977 album Thunderbyrd. Cyndi Lauper was inspired by A Coney Island of the Mind to write the song "Into the Nightlife" for her 2008 album Bring Ya to the Brink. Seamus McNally's 2007 filmed adaptation of Jacques Prévert's "To Paint the Portrait of a Bird" uses Ferlinghetti's English translation as its narrative text. The Residents mention Ferlinghetti in the lyrics of their song "Sinister Exaggerator" (from the EP Duck Stab!).
In 2009, Ferlinghetti became a member of the Honour Committee of the Italian artistic literary movement IMMAGINE&POESIA, founded under the patronage of Aeronwy Thomas. A retrospective of Ferlinghetti's artwork, 60 Years of Painting, was staged in Rome and Reggio Calabria in 2010.
In 2011, Ferlinghetti contributed two of his poems to the celebration of the 150th Anniversary of Italian unification: Song of the Third World War and Old Italians Dying inspired the artists of the exhibition Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Italy 150 held in Turin, Italy (May–June 2011). On the book of lithographs The Sea Within Us first published in Italy as Il Mare Dentro in 2012, Ferlinghetti collaborated with lithographer and abstract artist James Claussen.
In March 2012 he added his support to the movement to save the Gold Dust Lounge, a historic bar in San Francisco, which lost its lease in Union Square.
In 2012, Ferlinghetti was awarded the inaugural Janus Pannonius International Poetry Prize from the Hungarian PEN Club. After learning that the government of Hungary under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is a partial sponsor of the €50,000 prize, he declined to accept the award. In declining, Ferlinghetti cited his opposition to the "right-wing regime" of Prime Minister Orbán, and his opinion that the ruling Hungarian government under Mr. Orbán is curtailing civil liberties and freedom of speech for the people of Hungary.
Ferlinghetti published many of the Beat poets and is considered by some as a Beat poet as well. Yet Ferlinghetti does not consider himself to be a Beat poet, as he says in the 2013 documentary Ferlinghetti: Rebirth of Wonder: "Don't call me a Beat. I was never a Beat poet."
Currently, Lawrence Ferlinghetti is 102 years, 8 months and 4 days old. Lawrence Ferlinghetti will celebrate 103rd birthday on a Thursday 24th of March 2022.
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