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Poetry as Insurgent Art

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  619 ratings  ·  87 reviews
In 1953 Lawrence Ferlinghetti founded the first paperback bookstore in the United States. In over five decades City Lights, the bookstore and publisher, has become a Mecca for millions. Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind (ND, 1958) is a number one best-selling volume of poetry by any living American poet. Now, New Directions is proud to publish his manifesto in a pa ...more
Hardcover, 90 pages
Published September 17th 2007 by New Directions (first published September 1st 2007)
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4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  619 ratings  ·  87 reviews

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Oct 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2000s, poetry
i will not walk this path with you

i will not swallow
your self-aware self-

important sense of self-
worth as you swear in so many words

the world will be saved by poetry.
and i spent summers in sweltering

coffeehouses with cigarette smoke
dense and packed as the words

of amateur after amateur patting the backs
of other amateurs in an amateur display of

"we are poet, hear us roar,"
but i will not swallow this splenda-made sweetness

that poetry is saving the world.
i won't swallow that kool-aid.

Khashayar Mohammadi
An intriguing and ironically inspiring book of essay-poems which address the most prevalent problems with the medium of Poetry. The book is quite eccentric and Niche and I doubt if it'll appeal to any non-poet or non-writer; but I strongly recommend it to anyone who has ever written and performed poetry.
Sep 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I am signalling you through the flames.

The North Pole is not where it used to be.

Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest.

Civilization self-destructs.

Nemesis is knocking at the door.

What are poets for, in such an age? What is the use of poetry? (pg. 3)

So begins "Poetry As Insurgent Art", the first of three pieces that make up this short collection of meditations/reflections on the nature of poetry. "Poetry As Insurgent Art" asks questions, such as "What are poets for, in such an age? What is the u
Jul 29, 2016 rated it liked it
I read this largely to be inspired during such a time of depression (2016 Rep/Dem conventions).

At a minimum, Ferlinghetti imagines an entirely different world and does not meekly accept the crap we are being offered.

Richard Subber
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
I’m ignoring the Socialist activist thing in Ferlinghetti’s past. It’s really old news and it’s dull news—socialism isn’t and never was a clear and present danger in America, because the debilitating capitalist mentality and reality is entrenched.
Moving on to Ferlinghetti’s poetry: I confess I haven’t read a lot of it. I tried his Poetry as Insurgent Art (2007) and it didn’t leave me panting for more.
Much of it is a collection of one-liners, like “If you have nothing to say, don’t say it” and “C
Sarah Johnson
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed every page of Ferlinghetti’s manifesto on poetry, and though I don’t agree with every stance he takes, I appreciate the passion with which he writes. I guess I also just love good poems. I like poetry for the same reason I like well-written fantasy novels: they each reveal—in their own, exceedingly different ways—truths about our world by taking us outside of ourselves and our reality. Ferlinghetti says it beautifully: “A true poem can create a divine stillness in the world./ It is mad ...more
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
didn’t expect to like it but picked it up regardless. (mostly because of how small it was). safe to day i didnt love it but it definitely had some parts that a truly enjoyed. 3.5 stars
Dustin Reade
Apr 26, 2017 rated it liked it
meh. repetitive. contradictory. but well written. even beautiful at times. rambling. pretentious. poetic. meh.

i am not following Ferlinghetti down this particular rabbit hole.
Dec 29, 2008 rated it liked it
The book is several manifestos stitched together, Ferlinghetti's work in progress. The first two sections, "Poetry as Insurgent Art" and "What is Poetry?" are poetic lists of imperative statements. For me, these are hit-or-miss; the hits are comfort food for poets or heart-stopping leaps of metaphor; the misses are clichés or annoying puns.

The book is irresistibly quotable.

Now, the manifestos that follow (written in the '70s) are watered-down Ginsberg to me. A sad thing. These make Ferlinghetti'
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
I really wanted to like this book. I loved "A Coney Island of the Mind." It starts as a bunch of short lines about poetry in general. Some of which are interesting at even at times beautiful. The lines are much like what Jack Kerouac describes as tics. I found myself earmarking a few of the Ferlinghetti lines early on and toward the middle of the short collection. Then I found many lines which actually made me mad and that seemed hypocritical. I suppose the book was a success for Ferlinghetti as ...more
Renee Alberts
Apr 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Part desiderata, part manifesto, this quotable book is a prose poem about the importance of poetry. In four prose poems and a brief essay, its quips vary from rebellious: “Strive to change the world in such a way that there’s no further need to be a dissident”; to patently Ferlinghetti comparisons to classic art and canonic literature: “Poetry can be heard at manholes, echoing up Dante’s fire escape; to koan-like statements. Also, there are lots of birds. For anyone who needs to be convinced of ...more
Neil McCrea
Nov 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I used to think of Ferlinghetti as the least interesting of the Beats, but I'm coming around to seeing him as a much needed Apollonian influence to all the divine madness of his peers.

This book is a slender volume containing aphorisms, poetry and an essay all revolving around the importance of poetry. If I had read this book as a young man it would have lit quite the fire under my ass and I'm sure that my writing would have been all the better for it. Even though I first read it at a calcified m
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teaching
I have read this book over and over and over. You can tell, because I have underlined, highlighted, and written in the margins in about four different colors at this point. This is easily one of my most beloved books. Every time I pick it up, I end up losing myself in it. Someday, I will get a Ferlinghetti tattoo and it will be wonderful.

Perhaps the most wonderful part of this is how much my students responded to the excerpts I had them read. For the most part, they loved it, and a lot of them a
Christina M Rau
Jan 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
When I saw Lawrence Ferlinghetti at the Y, I tried to make a memory that included every single sound he uttered. I found Poetry As Insurgent Art on the poetry shelf at the library, and it all came flooding back to me. The book is tiny. It fits in a pocket. It has short thoughts about what poetry is. The thoughts have been developed over many years. It's simple. It's stunning. It's truth. It makes you think in short sentences, too. It's still in progress. It's ironic. It's funny. It's sad. It's s ...more
Mar 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Jon
Just a little teeny tiny book (honestly--it could fit in your pocket) just full of little inspiring quips about the meaning of poetry. This little tome also includes "Populist Manifesto I and II"...It's full of activism and fire. "Poets come out of your closets..." This is like some cappucino for the creative world. Wake up!
Jun 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, poetry
Interesting bits and pieces of poetry, though some felt entirely too pretentious for me. But there were a few stanzas I did thoroughly enjoy.
Lyubina Yordanova
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This tiny book is full of inspirational and passionate thoughts about what poetry is. But basically is about what life should be - poetry in expression, poetry in motion, poetry in being.

"I am signaling you through the flames.
The North Pole is not where it used to be.
Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest.
Civilization self-destructs.
Nemesis is knocking at the door.
What are poets for, in such an age?
What is the use of poetry?

The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it.
If you would be a
Veronica Rarick
Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a book of poetry about poetry. This is the first book of poetry that I have read by a beat poet, I picked it up at the Beat Poet Museum in San Fran when I visited and I felt I liked Ferlinghetti's poetry the best out of the beats (based off of the exhibits in the museum) so I bought this book. In retrospect I wish I had picked another book by him because while Poetry as Insurgent art was interesting it wasn't really what I was looking for. Like I said, it is a book of poetry about poetry ...more
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
while i'm pretty much not on board with the "poetry will save the world" mentality for many reasons, i do still love and appreciate this book, finding myself scrawling out lines into my notebooks. i think there are very very few poets who really live into this manifesto, and so so many that believe they do. and that's a bit dangerous. this book has the ability of inspiring some writers to create meaningful, important work; but for others it has the ability to emphasize the arrogance, privilege, ...more
which lena
May 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I go back and forth on how much I love Ferlinghetti - his poems look like zines! His poems are sort of interdisciplinary. His poems are products of the time. His poems sell themselves out. His poems are uncompromising. His poems are such beat era dude poems. But! Poetry as Insurgent Art usually gets me out of my brain funk writing rut, it is concise, it is fun, it is obnoxious. Ferlinghetti is difficult (as am I) and sometimes a lil flat (as am I), but we work for each other, like an irritatin ...more
Rick Jones
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
While this might be revelatory for someone who is not already a practicing literate or a 'creative', much of it feels repetitive and not particularly original. Occasionally a random spark will drift out from between the covers and burn you, but so much of this has been said before. While the meditations are good to remember, I am not feeling the love for this assemblage of thoughts.
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
In entirety it's a brilliant call to action for poets and would-be activists. The book is more about the definition and urgency for poetry than literal Lawrence Ferlinghetti poems. However, one will find themselves jotting down inspiring lines and sharing them with glee.
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Not bad if you replace his definition of “poetry” with “good writing”.
Tandava Brahmachari
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Whatever you think of his style, there's a lot of food for thought in here, and much to trigger new poem ideas as well.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it liked it
It starts off strong, but ends up being 60% fortune-cookie wisdom and 20% Ferlinghetti ranting about what is and isn't poetry, and many of those attitudes are mired in sexism and entitlement.
Michael Franklin
Feb 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: poets
so i just picked up ferlinghetti's latest book, poetry as insurgent art 2007 New Directions clothbound, at left bank books. the price was low, 12.95 for a first pressing hardback poetry book, and the size is in line with ferlinghetti's pocket poets collection he publishes under city lights. i am not sure what i was expecting, as i am never sure what to expect with ferlinghetti's work. he has made it all. poems, plays, journals, paintings, drawings, novels, and i have consumed most with the fervo ...more
Mar 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
I picked this up on a whim today, and I'm glad I did. While I don't go out of my way to read Beat poets, I've been a fan of Ferlinghetti since I read a poem of his in a copy a teacher handed out in high school. This particular collection contains four poems and a prose piece; the first two poems are new or new-ish, and the last two poems are from the 1970s. The prose piece also is from 1978 and is a critique of current poetry (which I daresay Ferlinghetti still holds to be true considering its i ...more
Jan 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Some interesting ideas and small gems in this book, but overall I was not particularly impressed. A lot of it reads like plain old stoner hippy rambling, which I have enough of in my life already. I was also annoyed by how much it was geared toward white American males. It undermined Ferlinghetti's otherwise successful attempt to be a call-to-arms. Er...a call-to-pens? Eh. Sorry.

His views on prose-as-poetry are interesting, though I disagree with them. He lambasts the calling of certain works "p
Dec 13, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommended to Amanda by: Tom
My friend got me this for my birthday or Christmas. They're so close together it probably doesn't matter which. Unfortunately, after I started reading this, I lost it. It's the size of my hand and it was pretty easy to misplace. I found it last night in a fit of cleaning and finished reading it.

"From the groundbreaking (and betselling) A Coney Island of the Mind in 1958 to the "personal epic" of Americus, Book I in 2003, Lawrence Ferlinghetti has, in more than thirty books, been the poetic consc
Ron Irvine
Isn't it time for the poets, the prophets, the common folk of America with vision and hope to step up and speak out???In a review of Ferlinghetti's book, the San Francisco Chronicle article states:"I am signaling you through the flames," he begins in the new section from which his book takes its title. "The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it." Poetry, in this vision, must be a political statement, arrows slung for freedom of expression, thought and resistance. "Write living newsp ...more
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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
“Poetry is a naked woman, a naked man, and the distance between them.” 186 likes
“Poetry is the shortest distance between two humans.” 11 likes
More quotes…