Thursday, February 25, 2021

Ferlinghetti -- No longer awaiting a rebirth of wonder

 "And I am awaiting, perpetually and forever, a renaissance of wonder."

Like many young people in the 70s and 80s I discovered the words of Lawrence Ferlinghetti sometime during my adolescence. Certainly it was linked to my learning of the Beats and reading Ginsburg's Howl for the first time and realizing there was a whole world of poetry and literature I'd never fathomed. And it was the kind of writing that could be found in and published by City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco. And when I first read Ferlinghetti's Coney Island of the Mind, I realized poetry could sound like the wonderfully strange meanderings of my mind, and that was pretty cool.

The poem "Sometime During Eternity" blew the mind of this young Catholic boy, and it is the first poem I memorized and performed publicly (beyond, of course, basic class requirements). Ferlinghetti had a way of being reverent and irreverent at the same time. Later, while in college studying to be a teacher, one of my professors used a few lines from "I Am Waiting" to talk about using the magic of childlike wonder as as a foundation for learning and teaching. Years later the poem would be something I regularly used to open the school year in my classes, and it became the inspiration for one of my first published pieces of commentary in the Denver Post, "Awaiting - still - a Renaissance of Wonder."

Rest in peace, dear poet. Godspeed.

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