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A Coney Island of the Mind

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,813 Ratings  ·  278 Reviews
Ferlinghetti is a national treasure, and his voice has become part of our collective conscience. Some of his most famous poems from this collection such as "I Am Waiting" and "Junkman's Obbligato" were created for jazz accompaniment. Written in the conservative post-war 1950s, his poems still resonate, as they will continue to resonate, with a joyful anti-establishment fer ...more
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published April 17th 2008 by New Directions (first published 1958)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 11, 2011 Maureen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: poetry
In looking at the book page for this book, I am struck by how many people chose to include one of Ferlinghetti's poems. In my opinion, what that says is that although some of the slanguage and cultural references may be a bit dated, these poems still resonate with people, me included. I bought my copy of this book at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, sat, and read it from cover to cover. Almost everyone who reads this book will find a poem that will stay with them a long, long time.
Renee Alberts
Oct 30, 2007 Renee Alberts rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
my dad gave me his beat-up copy of Coney Island when i was in junior high, and showed me "11" the poem he'd recited for his forensics team when he was in high school. that poetry could be that natural, funny and defiant shocked me, and i've been hooked ever since.

this one is up there on the list of books that changed my life.
Jan 25, 2008 Granny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: beats and cool cats of any age
One of the greatest influences of my teen years. Meeting and working with him in 1984 was an experience I'll never forget. Yeah, I still have my "ancient" copy of this book from the 1950's!
Erik Graff
Jul 02, 2009 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Beats and wanna-bes
Recommended to Erik by: Rachel Nelson
Shelves: poetry
Throughout much of my youth I bore fealty to a single woman. In junior high it was Nancy, half a foot taller than me, she of the checked skirts. In high school and into college it was Rachel, artist, fabricator of her own clothing, the girl down the block. Nothing came of these relationships in the ordinary sense. We were friends, but the passion wasn't reciprocated. I never really expected it would be.

Rachel had a custom during my last two years of secondary school of having folks over for Cons
Nov 12, 2011 tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
review of
Lawrence Ferlinghetti's A Coney Island of the Mind
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - November 12, 2011

Rereading A Coney Island of the Mind for what might be the 1st time in 41 yrs felt like going home again - by wch I mean that it feels like something that I'm very familiar w/ - even though I'm not. There's always the possibility that when one reads something in one's 'formative yrs' that it becomes deeply instantiated. Rereading this felt strangely comfortable - like being w/ an old fr
May 18, 2008 Britannie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In Golden Gate Park that day
a man and his wife were coming along
thru the enormous meadow
which was the meadow of the world
He was wearing green suspenders
and carrying an old beat-up flute
in one hand
while his wife had a bunch of grapes
which she kept handing out
to various squirrels
as if each
were a little joke

And then the two of them came on
thru the enormous meadow
which was the meadow of the world
and then
at a very still spot where the trees dreamed
and seemed to hav
Jul 06, 2010 Stef rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
in honor of one of my favorite beat poets, i will write this review without touching the shift key
and, of course, my thumb readily on the space tab

a collection of interesting visual poetry

don't need to snap your fingers or wear black

or have a set of bongos

fluid writing, cool fluidly throughout

read over and over
and over


Feb 19, 2008 Masked rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dangerpoet
the guy wrote a poem where marc chagall's mom is yelling at him.

"but he
kept right on

i love how sweet ferlinghetti's poems are. i don't think he means them to be. but they are.

Mind the Book
Att läsas experimentellt till (inre) jazz.
En favorit är Autobiography.

#BOTNS bokbingo: 'Has a place-name in the title'
Feb 01, 2009 Punk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Poetry. I like Ferlinghetti for his rhythm, humor, and creative use of white space. Sometimes, like ee cummings, Ferlinghetti seems to be constructing something on the page that makes sense only to him, but occasionally he hits on a structure that perfectly enhances the meaning of a poem. He uses this to great effect in works like "Johnny Nolan has a patch on his ass," where the text mirrors the rhythm and action of the poem.

This volume is an odd mix of political, sexual, and comical. Trains mak
Matthew Gallant
Feb 10, 2008 Matthew Gallant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first book of poetry. A gift from my college professor uncle. I read it right away, eager to break away from the school-taught (to this day!) Frost/Poe/Dickinson monotony. Don't get me wrong, they were great, but I suspected there was more out there and I was right. Ferlinghetti was the beginning for me. Incidentally, Uncle John also gave me a little text called "Revenge of the Lawn," which I just finally cracked last week after it stayed in storage since high school. Sorry, Richard, ...more
Oct 18, 2007 Elyssa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Lawrence Ferlinghetti might be one of the lesser known Beats, which is unfortunate. Although I generally do not like poetry, this is one book that's been on my shelf since high school. My admiration for Ferlinghetti resulted in visiting his City Lights Bookstore when I was in San Francisco ten or so years ago. I had hoped to run into him, but was not successful; however, just being in his world was enough for me. I periodically page through this book and re-read his poems and take pleasure in th ...more
Oct 29, 2007 kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: poetry
i slipped this from a top shelf of my parents' floor to ceiling bookshelves when i was 12 years old. i lay on the floor and fell head over heels in love with these words. there is an undeniable current within these pages and these poems stay within the recess of your mind.

"only the next day she has bad teeth and really hates poetry"

the well-worn copy i keep within reach is that same copy i slipped from that shelf.
Jan 08, 2013 Cyndi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surreal, romantic, hopeful and somewhat despairing. Some primo pieces of work evocative of the psychology of the latter 50s to early 60s, with the Cold War and the onset of the hippie movement.
Clearly, this is one of the most wonderful and important collections of American poetry yet written. Ferlinghetti is, in my view, king of the Beat Era poets.
Mar 21, 2008 Faith-Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people just getting interested in poetry
Shelves: my-favorites, poetry
This is a perfect book for people interested in exploring the world of poetry. I know quite a few people who got hooked on the genre through this book.
Aug 08, 2015 Drew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This Ferlinghetti collection has three discrete sections, the strongest of which -- "Oral Messages" -- is a series of long, freeform verses about "being free" in a Beat generation kind of way. Which isn't to say I didn't like the other two parts, which have a more anarchic spirit in how they're laid out on the page. Throughout, like Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti refashions consumerist language in playfully subversive ways but his poems hit the right notes more consistently than Ginsberg's do, at least ...more
Dec 09, 2008 Mick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not reading this is UnAmerican. Really.
Jun 27, 2015 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This is a hard one to rate. I didn't even think I liked the Beat era until I read Ferlinghetti's arguably most famous poem from this collection ("I Am Waiting"), and it's what sold me on trying the collection as a whole. And you know, I'm closer than I was before I read Ferlinghetti, but I'm still not sure I love Beat poetry. There are gems in here to be sure, and I think everyone of any age can find something to relate to in this vastly diverse collection of poetry that openly acknowledges the ...more
Apr 27, 2015 Matthew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The collection is divided into three parts: A Coney Island of the Mind; Oral Messages; and Poems from Pictures of the Gone World. In the first and third part, readers are treated to Ferlinghetti's trademark style, with lines that appear to have been told to stand on either side of the page...

Constantly risking absurdity
and death
whenever he performs
above the heads
of his audience
the poet like an acrobat
climbs on rime
to a high wire of his own making
(pg. 30)

(to see the poem in all its glory,
Nov 17, 2012 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am leading a quiet life
in Mike’s Place every day
I hear America singing
in the Yellow Pages.

I am leading a quiet life
in Mike’s Place every day
watching the champs
of the Dante Billiard Parlor
and the French pinball addicts.
I am leading a quiet life
on lower East Broadway.
I am an American.
I was an American boy.
I read the American Boy Magazine
and became a boy scout
in the suburbs.
I thought I was Tom Sawyer
catching crayfish in the Bronx River
and imagining the Mississippi.
I had a baseba
Feb 12, 2008 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Well, the poems in this landmark collection are a bit dated. Check out this one (it's going to lose all the formatting, but okay). It's based upon what used to be hipster language, but now seems parodically dated, and it's attitude is not generous, but instead kind of snotty and in-crowd sardonic. The use of an idiom that is now exhausted teaches the danger of slang poetry and slang fiction. Still, this collection USED to be one of the key books for every bookshelf, and there are still some wond ...more
Apr 12, 2012 Dixon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was in college (back when dinosaurs ruled the earth), I fell in love with this volume of Beat Generation poetry. I did some readings of Ferlinghetti on the college speech & debate circuit, and he helped me bring home some trophies. I guess you could say we were partners of a sort.

Ferlinghetti was not merely a poet. He also owned the Harbor Lights bookstore (I think that's the name) and ran a small press. When Ginsberg was trying to publish "Howl," Ferlinghetti was the only one with th
May 03, 2012 Jake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I had never read Ferlinghetti before, and I bought this solely because of its title. Coney Island? OF THE MIND? Well, it had a lot of that quality. Titleless poems that bounced around, colorful and chiming. It was noises and images and an America you’d hope to find out on the east coast boardwalk of the great arcade known as Coney Island. It wasn’t exactly beatnik sleight of hand, nor was it the slow-mouthed observations of this country. It was a mixture of a man reading at a jazz club, a man ju ...more
Jul 30, 2008 Dana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: New-age hippies, members of the Beat movement, angsty teens, and lovers of contemporary poetry.
Before reading this book as part of a research project on a poet of my choice, I admit that I only read poetry for leisure if said poetry was written by Edgar Allan Poe.

Ferlinghetti was not what I had anticipated when I first chose him as my research subject, but I quickly decided to like him anyway. His poetry is decidedly different, especially in terms of line structure and subject matter. He was a prominent member of the Beat movement of the 1950's, and his poetry reflects that in the form of
Lorin Elizabeth
I wish the whole collection was more like poem 11 from Pictures of the Gone World. Which is boss. There were lots of highlights here, like the line, "you and me could really exist" and "Junkman's Obbligato". Ferlinghetti has a little of the romance of Kerouac and a little of the surreal of Ginsberg, just, sometimes, not quite enough of either for me.
Jul 29, 2008 Wendy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wendy by: Paul Grimsley
Shelves: poetry-prose
I didn't like a lot of the form for form sake or rhyme for rhyme sake in this work, but there were redeeming images, and a few really good pieces in this book. The work is all written in that this-is-what-I-see point of view, similar to that of Liliana Ursu, but with less real emotion, and more contrived images, and word clevernesses.

There is a section with words written for jazz pieces, that are probably better heard than read, like so much is with spoken word/neo-beat poetry, however I've rea
Ryan Rodrigues
Ferlinghetti runs through a variety of topics and concepts in a mellow yet erratic fashion during the first half of the book. Some of them flew over my head and I couldn't quite grasp what he was getting at, but then again this is beat poetry, so it's possible he wasn't getting at anything at all. However, I tend to dislike nonsense. Then the second half of it was his improvisational work originally accompanied by a jazz ensemble backing his poetry. Read them over famous jazz recordings from the ...more
Feb 28, 2015 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
conducting a symphony of words
cooking a recipe of ideas
pop culture
and counter culture
and subculture
and high culture
and low culture
and Western culture

Less writing
and more pulling words together
finding the pattern
to the inner eye

He sees with a critical eye
and cuts
and skewers the lies
of the world around us
as true today as in 1950

Only read this if you can stand
him reaching into your brain
the Coney Island of your mind
and spreading it on the streets of you
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Gasoline & The Vestal Lady on Brattle
  • Turtle Island
  • Kaddish and Other Poems
  • Pomes All Sizes
  • Lunch Poems
  • The Portable Beat Reader
  • Selected Poems of Robert Creeley
  • Pieces of a Song: Selected Poems
  • A Season in Hell/The Drunken Boat
  • Go
  • Women of the Beat Generation: The Writers, Artists and Muses at the Heart of a Revolution
  • Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems
  • Solitudes Crowded With Loneliness
  • The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry
A prominent voice of the wide-open poetry movement that began in the 1950s, Lawrence Ferlinghetti has written poetry, translation, fiction, theater, art criticism, film narration, and essays. Often concerned with politics and social issues, Ferlinghetti’s poetry countered the literary elite's definition of art and the artist's role in the world. Though imbued with the commonplace, his poetry canno ...more
More about Lawrence Ferlinghetti...

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“I once started out
to walk around the world
but ended up in Brooklyn,
that Bridge was too much for me.”
“I am waiting for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe for anarchy”
More quotes…