Who and what we choose individually or as a nation to remember reveals our own character. One of those being remembered today is the “Beat Poet” Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who died Feb. 22 in San Francisco at the age of 101. As a poet, he revolutionized what poetry can sound like and what subject matters it might expand the boundaries of what had been expressed in poetry before him.
He is also remembered for co-founding one of the most famous bookstores in the United States and beyond: The City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco. It became a gathering center for artists and writers where ideas were debated, expanded and made to feel important for the life of a culture. In 1953, the year of its founding, it became the first all-paperback bookstore, selling quality books at reasonable prices. In 1955 Ferlinghetti inaugurated “The City Lights Pocket Poets Series” to encourage people to read poetry for enjoyment and insights into being a human being.