Ferlinghetti Festival/Fight for Whitman’s Home – Poetry News Roundup May 10th

Our final poetry news round-up of the week takes a look at a festival that honoured Lawrence Ferlinghetti. We also have an article about the continued fight to have Walt Whitman’s former home saved with a preservation order.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti Honoured by Bay Area Book Festival

Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti poses on Monday, Jan. 15, 1988 in San Francisco in front of the North Beach bookstore he founded more than 35 years ago. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors accepted 13 of Ferlinghettiís recommendations on Thursday to change local street names after 15 of San Franciscoís best known artists and writers. (AP Photo)

City Lights Bookstore and the Paris Review came together last weekend to present “Lawrence Ferlinghetti at 100: A Tribute”. The event took place in the auditorium of the Veterans Memorial Building. It seems fitting that the event should have taken place in the area it did; a place he refers to as being his ‘home’.

Ferlinghetti was a writer that was quite prolific, as well as a co-founder of the San Francisco landmark known as the City Lights, a name that will be forever linked to the well-known Beat Generation. During his illustrious career, he has published numerous collections of poetry, novels and short plays. He was a hundred years old earlier this year.

There were a number of Ferlinghetti’s fellow poets in attendance at the event, including Barbara Jane Reyes and Julien Poirier – who are both published by City Lights, and El Cerrito’s first poet laureate, Maw Shein Win. They all chose a selected work of Ferlinghetti to read at the event. The event then carried on with a discussion about the great poet, and a debate about interviews he had given over the years. They concluded with a discussion about this history of City Lights and the astonishing fact that it had remained an independent business for so long given that poetry really doesn’t sell. This was why Ferlinghetti founded the business in the first place and his comments that


Walt Whitman’s 200th Birthday Improves Odds of Preserving his Former Home

In the run-up to the 200th Birthday of the Poet Walt Whitman and the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Inn Riots, campaigners are stepping up their fight to have 99 Ryerson St given landmark designation. The address in Clinton Hill is where the poet wrote “Leaves of Grass”.

The Coalition to Save Walt Whitman’s House has been attempting to have the building landmarked for a number of years, but they have now garnered new support from a number of locally elected officials and of course the public interest that has occurred as a result of these two upcoming important anniversaries.

The NYC LGBT Historic Projects Sites and a team of preservation experts are both members of the coalition and so far over 5,400 people have signed a petition to save the property.

Whitman, who was born in 1819 and died in 1892, lived in over 30 properties during his lifetime, but the property at 99 Ryerson Street – which has been codenamed Leaves of Grass House by the coalition – is the only one that remains standing, which is why they believe it is so essential that is receives a preservation order.

This is not a beautiful house. In fact it is far from it, but it is a hugely important site both for literature and also the history of LGBTQ in New York. It is a cultural landmark and so important to a great many people, and it is also the oldest building associated with someone who is now considered an LGBTQ+ resident.

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