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A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  10,537 ratings  ·  345 reviews
The title of this book is taken from Henry Miller's "Into the Night Life" and expresses the way Lawrence Ferlinghetti felt about these poems when he wrote them during a short period in the 1950'sas if they were, taken together, a kind of Coney Island of the mind, a kind of circus of the soul. ...more
Paperback, 93 pages
Published 1958 by New Directions
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 ·  10,537 ratings  ·  345 reviews

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Bill Kerwin
May 22, 2007 rated it really liked it

This is one of the best-selling poetry books of all time, and, although that is no guarantee of poetic excellenceafter all, Rod McKuen and Martin Farquar Tupper both sold a lot of books in their dayit is a sign that the author had his finger on the pulse of his time, that his work embodies the yearnings and anxiety of a particular age.

That is certainly true of Ferlinghettis A Coney Island of the Mind(1958). No other book so perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the 60s counterculture, the optimism
May 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetshere
I too have drunk and seen
the spider

A perfect aside for a hot day after returning from holiday. I truly liked this much more than I do Ginsburg. I felt it aligning itself in step with O'Hara perhaps, a parallel solidity. As was the case with our sojourn to the Deep South I read this with an ear for Race. The time of its publication is close to when James Baldwin returned from exile, to pay his dues. (1955)

I liked Ferlinghetti's images, his reworking of Christian mythos.
The interplay with
Renee Alberts
Oct 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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!
Adriana Scarpin
I am Waiting

I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final
Cheryl Kennedy
In Goya's greatest scenes we seem to see
the people of the world
exactly at the moment when
they first attained the title of
'suffering humanity'

We are the same people
only further from home
on freeways fifty lanes wide
on a concrete continent
spaced with bland billboards
illustrating imbecile illusions of happiness
Apr 17, 2008 rated it really liked it

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
Jul 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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.

I am leading a quiet life
in Mikes Place every day
I hear America singing
in the Yellow Pages.

I am leading a quiet life
in Mikes 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 baseball
Erik Graff
Jul 02, 2009 rated it liked it
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

A slightly different take of mine about this book:

Every bookish malcontent in the world gets all hot and bothered by the Beats, and that's fine, of course, but Lawrence Ferlinghetti is one of the major poets of the movement and he gets overlooked quite often.

In fact, there's a moment in this documentary I saw on him where he's at his 70th birthday or something and he's chatting with Gregory Corso. Corso's all shabby and grungy and resentful, a bitter
Nov 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Mind the Book
Att läsas experimentellt till (inre) jazz.
En favorit är Autobiography.

#BOTNS bokbingo: 'Has a place-name in the title'
Nov 16, 2014 rated it liked it
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,
Dec 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Matthew Gallant
Feb 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Mick Parsons
Dec 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Not reading this is UnAmerican. Really.
Feb 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
In "A Coney Island of the Mind"
Ferlinghetti's poetry is totally mind blowing and unbelievably still seems quite current...A masterpiece!!
Dec 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 youd hope to find out on the east coast boardwalk of the great arcade known as Coney Island. It wasnt 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 just ...more
This book of poetry feels like a slice of history. I can feel the influence of the beatniks, slam poetry, the style of E.E. Cummings (and others), and the impending '60s. The writing is current and prescient, personal and political, musical and lyrical. He captures ideas and moments in time, but they're not that far removed from today.

Here's a moment-in-time favorite. You don't really know how the woman is feeling until the end, and then you wonder what her life was like in the next decade:

Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
There is going to be a poem that resonates with you. An allegorical collection of poems, 'the author intended it as a sustained metaphor or allegory for modern life'. His use of structure is very note-worthy. It allows the reader to freely read it, changing the meaning of the sentence depending on your intonation. They're smart and witty poems.
I liked '15' where he compares a poet to a tightrope walker. Or the one where he describes a drunken hookup, the girl declaring that 'you and I could
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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, Ferlinghettis poetry countered the literary elite's definition of art and the artist's role in the world. Though imbued with the commonplace, his poetry cannot ...more

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