Rare Book of the Day – Starting from San Francisco, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. First Paperback Edition
Starting from San Francisco, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. First Paperback Edition.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti is a pretty important figure in the history of twentieth century letters, particularly with the beat generation. Born in 1919, he is a poet, painter, social activist and co-founder of City Lights Booksellers and Publishers in San Francisco. He started the bookshop in 1953 which was the first all-paperbound bookshop in the country. In 1955 he began the publishing wing of City Lights, with the publication of his book of poetry Pictures of the Gone World, which was the first in the Pocket Poets Series. This volume was followed by publications by such luminaries as William Carlos Williams, Kenneth Rexroth, Allen Ginsberg, Kenneth Patchen, Marie Ponsot, Bob Kaufman, Denise Levertov, Robert Duncan, and Gregory Corso.
The fourth volume in Ferlinghetti's Pocket Poets Series was Allen Ginsberg's immortal Howl, which was seized in 1956 by the San Francisco police. Ferlinghetti was arrested and, along with several others involved, charged for obscenity. He had the support of major academic and literary figures and, at the end of a long trial, was acquitted. This incident served as a landmark first amendment case in which controversial literary work is deemed to have redeeming social importance. At age 99, Ferlinghetti is still around and active, owning City Lights and continuing to write.
Starting from San Francisco is Ferlinghetti's fourth collection of poetry, published in 1961. The poems are primarily based on a journey across the United States, along with a meditation on Machu Picchu. This is the first paperback edition, published by New Directions in 1957: