Iconic San Francisco poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti dies at 101

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Poet, publisher and bookseller Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who helped launch and perpetuate the Beat movement, has died. He was 101.

Ferlinghetti died at his San Francisco home Monday, his son Lorenzo Ferlinghetti told The Associated Press Tuesday.

Ferlinghetti was known for his City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, an essential meeting place for the Beats and other bohemians in the 1950s and beyond.

The landmark bookstore opened on Columbus Avenue in North Beach back in the 50’s.

While a prolific writer, painter, and the city’s first poet laureate, he is most famous for his work as a publisher.

Its publishing arm released books by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and many others. The most famous release was Ginsberg’s anthemic poem, “Howl.” It led to a 1957 obscenity trial that broke new ground for freedom of expression.

The Beat generation questioned American society in the 50’s and eventually set the stage for the Anti-war movement and Counterculture of 1960’s.

The manager of City Lights bookstore says while Ferlinghetti was a famous man, he didn’t act like one.

“He was very down to earth, I would say, and generous with himself. It’s not that Lawrence was particularly humble. It’s just that he didn’t revel in his accomplishments. He was always thinking about what he wanted to do next, which is while probably why he did so much.”

In an exclusive interview, Paul Yamazaki, the head buyer at City Lights bookstore, spoke with KRON4’s Noelle Bellow about his relationship with Ferlinghetti.

“I think Lawrence has been the sun and moon for San Francisco and for American literature. And because of that, he will shine on us for many many more years,” Yamazaki said.

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