In his baseball cap and wire rim glasses—red frames, mind you—Lawrence Ferlinghetti read his poems in a wispy, near whisper of a voice to a sold-out crowd at the Y last night. His adoring fans hooted and hollered as he took to the podium. If you saw him there with his gentle, glowing eyes and ways you’d have been hooting, too.
Ah, a living poet. There was just something in the way the first poet laureate out of San Francisco moved about the stage. He carried his poems in a large manila envelope. And when it grew time to read, he pulled out the sheets of paper and held them near to his eyes. He ruffled them for a while. Waited on a pregnant pause or two. And, read. His poems were funny. And, political.
Do you know who is beautiful?
Lawrence Ferlinghetti. There are very few experiences when I encounter someone whose mind and artistic ability are so powerful that he or she is able to move me both at an emotional and intellectual level, and last night was one of those rare intense moments. I went to see Ferlinghetti at the ‘92nd Street Y’ in the UES; and he is a super-star! I feel honored and extremely fortunate to have been able to see him and to hear his timely and relevant poetic message:
I am signaling you through the flames.
The North Pole is not where it used to be.
Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest.
The goddess Nemesis is knocking at the door…
What are poets for in such an age?
The state of the world calls out for poetry
to save it.
If you would be a poet, create works
capable of answering the challenge of
Apocalyptic times, even if it means
(From his upcoming book Poetry as Insurgent Art, to be released on Sept. 2007)