8 Essential Lawrence Ferlinghetti Reads

Alta Journal editors recommend the titles that best represent the poet’s talent and scope.

lawrence ferlinghetti books
Alta
“A Coney Island of the Mind” (1958)
a coney island of the mind, lawrence ferlinghetti
New Directions

Ferlinghetti borrowed the title of this collection from Henry Miller to describe the way he felt about the poems when he wrote them, as “a kind of circus of the soul.”

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“Starting from San Francisco” (1961)
starting from san francisco, awrence ferlinghetti
New Directions

In this third collection of his works, Ferlinghetti tackles global adventures and dark subjects with his distinctive prose.

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“An Elegy to Dispel Gloom” (1978)
an elegy to dispel gloom, lawrence ferlinghetti
City Lights

Written in the aftermath of the assassinations of San Francisco mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, this pamphlet is a rare real-life treasure.

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“These Are My Rivers” (1994)
these are my rivers, lawrence ferlinghetti
New Directions

This collection of poetry Ferlinghetti wrote between 1955 and 1993 includes previously unpublished works.

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“A Far Rockaway of the Heart” (1998)
far rockaway of the heart, lawrence ferlinghetti
New Directions

Written 40 years after A Coney Island of the Mind, this sequel to Ferlinghetti’s most famous collection contains 101 poems, including reflections on pre-Beat poets and the genre’s modern practitioners.

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“Pictures of the Gone World” (1955)
bookcover, pictures of the gone world, lawrence ferlinghetti
City Lights Books

This classic collection of Ferlinghetti’s early work includes many of his best-known poems.

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“Poetry As Insurgent Art” (2007)
lawrence ferlinghetti, poetry as insurgent art
New Directions

This collection of observations, reflections, and advice begins in the late 1950s and serves as a primer on the poet’s motivations and style.

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“Little Boy” (2020)
little boy, lawrence ferlinghetti
Anchor

At 99, Ferlinghetti penned this memoir packed with recollections of his childhood and career, political rants, humor, wordplay, and the energy of a talent a quarter his age.

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