Director Christopher Felver has crafted an incisive, sharply-wrought portrait of American poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti that explores his vital role as catalyst for numerous literary careers and for the Beat movement itself.

Interviews with Ferlinghetti are weaved with other significant figures that reveal a rich melange of characters and events that came together in postwar America.

An Official Selection for the San Francisco International Film Festival, the in-depth documentary features interviews with Allen Ginsberg, Dennis Hopper, Amiri Baraka and Robert Scheer.

Ferlinghetti was best known for his second collection of poems, A Coney Island of the Mind (1958), which has been translated into nine languages and has sold over a million copies.

“Mr. Ferlinghetti’s own literary prowess: the author of ‘A Coney Island of the Mind,’ he remains among the most popular poets of the modern era… deftly blends old news clips and readings with interviews of writers and artists. – The New York Times

Ferlinghetti published many of the Beat poets and is considered by some as a Beat poet as well. Yet Ferlinghetti did not consider himself to be a Beat poet, as he said in this documentary… “Don’t call me a Beat. I was never a Beat poet.”

Despite that, Ferlinghetti penned much of his early poetry in the vein of T. S. Eliot. He told poet and critic Jack Foley, “Everything I wrote sounded just like him.” Yet, even in his poems inspired by Eliot such as Ferlinghetti’s “Constantly Risking Absurdity,” he is ever the populist as he compares the poet first to a trapeze artist in a circus and then to a “little charleychaplin man.”

2009 / 79 minutes / English / A film by Christopher Felver


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