"Printer's ink is the greater explosive."Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Lawrence Ferlinghetti founded the City Lights publishing house sixty years ago in 1955, launching the press with his now legendary Pocket Poets Series. First in the series was Pictures of the Gone Worldand within a year, he had brought out two more volumes, translations by Kenneth Rexroth and then, poems by Kenneth Patchen. But it was the success and scandal of Number Four, Howl & Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg (1956), that put City Lights on the map, positioning the Pocket Poets Series at the forefront of the literary counterculture.
A landmark sixtieth retrospective celebrating 60 years of publishing and cultural history, this edition provides an invaluable distillation of the energetic, iconoclastic and still fresh body of work represented in the ongoing series. Ferlinghetti has selected a handful of poems from each of the sixty volumes, including the work of Ginsberg, Kerouac, Corso, Pasolini, Voznesensky, Prévert, Mayakovsky, Cortázar, O'Hara, Ponsot, Levertov, di Prima, Duncan, Lamantia, Lowry, and more, all of the Pocket Poets Series' innovative, influential, and often ground-breaking American and international poets.
60th Anniversary Edition
Edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
40th Anniversary edition, published in 1995, contained a selection of three poems each from every Pocket Poet book published in the series, up through Number 52.
This edition picks up where that left off, including all of the above, and adding three poems each (selected again by Ferlinghetti, series editor) from the titles/poets published in the series since then:
THE LANGUAGE OF SAXOPHONES
STATE OF EXILE
Cristina Peri Rossi
WHEN I WAS A POET
"[A] book you can’t help but cherish.”—Times Literary Supplement
"The true marvel of the City Light Pocket Poets Anthology is its reappearance in its 60th year. That represents a venerable tradition (and a long run) for an avant-garde that often mutates too quickly for continuity … just as Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems became the best-selling poetry book of a generation, Ferlinghetti’s own A Coney Island of the Mind, with its insouciant bravado and cheer, has passed the million sales mark. That’s a rare occurrence in these United States. So is the Pocket Poets Series.”—John Tytell, Los Angeles Review of Books
"The 60th Anniversary Edition of the City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology is the kind of collection the publisher has produced for years. It keeps the brand alive and necessary, and wow, there are some special treats, like poems by Pablo Picasso. Its old news that Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who edited this, has been looking at art with devastating erudition since the middle of the last century. As anthologist, he has lost none of his edge, and so he gives us a fabulous stew of the familiar, in Allen Ginsberg, Diane di Prima, and other beats mixed in with Marie Ponsot, has earned more attention than she usually receives — There is so much more in this blazing gift of a volume that provides another example of the range of the City Lights endeavor. Allen Ginsberg. Gregory Corso. Diane di Prima. Check. Check. Check. Plus imported and domestic surprises. Pocket Poets has always been a project that enabled people to carry fine poems comfortably in their clothes, next to skin, so that this great stream of poetry could seep right in.”—The Rumpus
“Open the book anywhere and you will be sure to find an unexpected delicacy that gives rise to political memories, trips to distant places, or spiritual quests … Ferlinghetti has once again given us the opportunity to walk the streets with laughter, satire, ferment, sadness, joy, dissidence, and love tucked in our pockets.”—R.I. Sutherland-Cohen, Beat Scene
"San Francisco’s City Lights Books began publishing the Pocket Poets Series in 1955. Speaking of his intentions for the series, Lawrence Ferlinghetti writes, 'I had in mind rather an international, dissident, insurgent ferment.' Consistent with this philosophy, the new 60th Anniversary Edition of the City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology includes not only the familiar names associated with a particular San Francisco literary scene (Ginsberg, Kerouac, Ferlinghetti himself, others), but writing and writers from across the years and oceans. Readers possessing only anecdotal familiarity with City Lights Books will find an unexpected breadth of artistic sensibility within the Anthology, and no doubt several fine poems by previously undiscovered writers. Recommended for established fans of the press and newcomers alike.”—Toad Suck Review