by Steven Black, Head of Acquisitions
From across San Francisco Bay, the explosion of civic pride that is being expressed in the lead-up to Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s 100th birthday (March 24) is felt in Berkeley, and in particular at The Bancroft Library. As the proud repository of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s literary archive, as well as records of his publishing house City Lights Books, generations of Library staff have been privileged to meet with Ferlinghetti over the years.
In 1996, Bancroft hosted the symposium “Ferlinghetti, City Lights, and the Beats in San Francisco: From the Margins to the Mainstream” which was followed by the Friends of The Bancroft Library keepsake The poet’s eye : a tribute to Lawrence Ferlinghetti, edited by Richard Ogar.
More recently, Bancroft’s curator of Rare Books and Literary Manuscripts is seen here with Ferlinghetti in 2016 to arrange the acquisition of the most recent installment of his papers.
One interesting characteristic of the poet’s creative method is the use of reporter’s notebooks in the composition of his verses, which recalls these oft-quoted lines from William Carlos Williams: “It is difficult/ to get the news from poems/ yet men die miserably every day/ for lack// of what is found there” !
Far from resting on his well-earned laurels, Ferlinghetti has marked this milestone month with the publication of a new novel, Little Boy, released just this week.