lawrence ferlinghetti | populist manifesto no. 1

2 01 2013


POETRY DISPATCH #387 | January 1, 2013

New Year’s Day


Part I—(of a possible Part II)…

Editor’s Note: Let us now praise…Felinghetti, while he furiously finds the words to hurl amongst us, age 93, never missing a beat. America’s only true American poet of conscience, given our time. Which is forever his time, whether one goes back to his beautiful CONEY ISLAND OF THE MIND, or peeks into his present take on America singing, crying in his two ‘instant’ classic works: AMERICUS, Book I (2004) and TIME OF USEFUL CONSCIOUSNESS, Americus, Book II (2012), where he takes on Williams, takes on Olson, Ginsberg, Kerouac…takes on the wonder of Whitman and becomes them all in their love and angst over America the beautiful bad.

Before that though, in keeping with the new year, in keeping with the always new-old Ferlinghetti…let us celebrate (poets and readers) the new day with a reminder of a poet’s work. Let us listen, sing, think, write our hearts out to this beat in the days ahead.
We are all in need of manifestoes. — Norbert Blei



Poets, come out of your closets,
Open your windows, open your doors,
You have been holed-up too long
in your closed worlds.
Come down, come down
from your Russian Hills and Telegraph Hills,
your Beacon Hills and your Chapel Hills,
your Mount Analogues and Montparnasses,
down from your foot hills and mountains,
out of your tepees and domes.
The trees are still falling
and we’ll to the woods no more.
No time now for sitting in them
As man burns down his own house
to roast his pig.
No more chanting Hare Krishna
while Rome burns.
San Francisco’s burning,
Mayakovsky’s Moscow’s burning
the fossil-fuels of life.
Night & the Horse approaches
eating light, heat & power,
and the clouds have trousers.
No time now for the artist to hide
above, beyond, behind the scenes,
indifferent, paring his fingernails,
refining himself out of existence.
No time now for our little literary games,
no time now for our paranoias & hypochondrias,
no time now for fear & loathing,
time now only for light & love.
We have seen the best minds of our generation
destroyed by boredom at poetry readings.
Poetry isn’t a secret society,
It isn’t a temple either.
Secret words & chants won’t do any longer.
The hour of oming is over, the time for keening come,
time for keening & rejoicing
over the coming end of industrial civilization
which is bad for earth & Man.
Time now to face outward
in the full lotus position
with eyes wide open,
Time now to open your mouths
with a new open speech,
time now to communicate with all sentient beings,
All you Poets of the Cities’
hung in museums, including myself,
All you poet’s poets writing poetry about poetry,
All you dead language poets and deconstructionists,
All you poetry workshop poets
in the boondock heart of America,
All you house-broken Ezra Pounds,
All you far-out freaked-out cut-up poets,
All you pre-stressed Concrete poets,
All you cunnilingual poets,
All you pay-toilet poets groaning with graffitti,
All you A-train swingers who never swing on birches,
All you masters of the sawmill haiku
in the Siberias of America,
All you eyeless unrealists,
All you self-occulting supersurrealists,
All you bedroom visionaries and closet agitpropagators,
All you Groucho Marxist poets
and leisure-class Comrades
who lie around all day
and talk about the workingclass proletariat,
All you Catholic anarchists of poetry,
All you Black Mountaineers of poetry,
All you Boston Brahmins and Bolinas bucolics,
All you den mothers of poetry,
All you zen brothers of poetry,
All you suicide lovers of poetry,
All you hairy professors of poesie,
All you poetry reviewers drinking the blood of the poet,
All you Poetry Police—
Where are Whitman’s wild children,
where the great voices speaking out
with a sense of sweetness and sublimity,
where the great new vision,
the great world-view,
the high prophetic song of the immense earth
and all that sings in it
And our relation to it—
Poets, descend
to the street of the world once more
And open your minds & eyes
with the old visual delight,
Clear your throat and speak up,
Poetry is dead, long live poetry
with terrible eyes and buffalo strength.
Don’t wait for the Revolution
or it’ll happen without you,
Stop mumbling and speak out
with a new wide-open poetry
with a new commonsensual ‘public surface’
with other subjective levels
or other subversive levels,
a tuning fork in the inner ear
to strike below the surface.
Of your own sweet Self still sing
yet utter ‘the word en-masse’—
Poetry the common carrier
for the transportation of the public
to higher places
than other wheels can carry it.
Poetry still falls from the skies
into our streets still open.
They haven’t put up the barricades, yet,
the streets still alive with faces,
lovely men & women still walking there,
still lovely creatures everywhere,
in the eyes of all the secret of all
still buried there,
Whitman’s wild children still sleeping there,
Awake and sing in the open air.




19 responses

2 01 2013
m lewis redford

what an excellent call … you mean I shouldn’t be mumbling at the ground with my hands in my pockets hoping someone heard?

2 01 2013

Well.. WOW… It’s a giant call. And I feel the ‘call’. Hoping to let it flow from my guts and heart. Thanks NOrb.

2 01 2013
Kris Thacher

Last night, I watched the film “Howl” made in 2010 with actor James Franco playing the part of Ginsberg. Ferlinghetti’s trial for obscenity for publishing the poem in the midst of the movie. Why did we ever think the 50’s were such a quiet time? Drinking the blood of the poet, indeed.

2 01 2013
Doug Draime

An inspiring forward march, regardless of what some of you out there may think of Ferlinghetti. Maybe it’ll piss you off enough to stop examining and taking notes on your toe jam. Onward.

2 01 2013
Ralph Murre


2 01 2013

Well, yeah, if we kill off some millions of folks, we can vanquish industrial civilization, and the privileged remaining few can sew themselves in skins, worship the bears and beasts and write with charcoal on cave walls our exaltations, a new Canticle for Liebowitz.

2 01 2013
carol gresko

…. the appropriate word is DREW not write

2 01 2013
carol gresko

or DRAW………. present t.

3 01 2013
hatto fischer

It is easy to say poets fail but who really listens? Much reminds of Brendan Kennelly’s book called ‘Poetry my Arse’. He came to that conclusion after expriencing it is not good for poets to stay merely amongst poets who would not listen. But the solution is not to praise some sweet song for even we children know how to stumble and fall, and still laugh while doing so, since frolic and freedom can go together when not hostage of twisted minds. It seems some correction is needed but also due recognition for whatever any poet has to say can be a whisper in a forest full of trees standing tall. But this manifesto does give some answers why so much poetry tends to fail to communicate. Especially when he touches upon different levels having to do with the grammar of life. Hatto Fischer Athens 3.1.2013

6 01 2013
david eberhardt

We have seen the best minds of our generation
destroyed by boredom at poetry readings.

i luv it- and this poem- note there are hardly any right wing poems of any value- it’s hard to even find any- Republicans, gun owner (unless left revolutionaries), new yorker poets (in the main), acadeemic, anemic poets- scratching eech others arses-
i think of such poets as Nazim Hikmet, Frank Thomposon, Leon Felippe- poets you never heard of
RIP Jack Gilbert
by the way chk Kathleen Jamie-chek Alice Walker’s poem on Democracy Now- chk Occupy voice chek pome
Now- what r we going to w w john asbery?
dave eberhardt in baltimore

6 01 2013
Red Slider

absolutely time to climb down from our stages, say adios to the “entertainment industry” and get in the trenches. The age of Ginsberg’s ‘Town Criers” is drawing to a close; the age of “First Responders” is opening. Be there, do there. The ghosts of Newtown need voices to shut the mouths and open the ears of gun-nuts. The still dazed of Fukashima-Daichi still burn with specks of sun buried deep under their skin. We don’t need to slam each other for attention – we need to slam the lid on corporate personhood and nail it shut. The poet Muhammad al-Ajami sits in a Qatar prison, handed a life sentence for writing a poem, while our beloved Qatar-financed Al-Jazeera, champion of free-speech doesn’t lift a finger against the hand that feeds it and Al Gore, spokesman for the inconvenient truth, sells his American network to them for 500 million — the hell with crying; put our mouths where the money is – slam them to the ground, bury them in the rubble of Sandy’s oceanfront view of ruined lives and homes. Take back every Occupy zone and city in America that’s been shut down by legal drivel and jackbooted thugs – fire words of fire that they can’t put out — revolting words, justice words, dreaming words. Michael Rothenberg’s 100 Thousand Poets for Change ( is a good place to start. In our prisons, in our classrooms, on the street – our voices our needed to prevent catastrophe, our songs to lift fighting spirits. Every time a catastrophe strikes – a flood, a fire, a climate disaster, a shooting, a rape, a toxic spill, a refugee camp, a drone, a distorted word in a public body; be there, sound, sing, scream and put yourself between the victims and the shock-doctrine bearing down on them. Be a first-responder, be a poet.

7 01 2013

A first-responder… Yes.. A poet for change. Yes. There are ears for poems of all this. And some need to hear it.
I haven’t the anger to give my poetry. My revolt, is a cry for self awakening, kindness, kick the ass outta your caring and get busy being the peace ya wanna see.
In the foray of so much toxicity and negativity, I say, find the love in your heart and feed the Peace, feed what you want to grow. I’m hungry for some positive, soul-full poetics that remind me I am bigger and brighter, and lighter than the fear that’s fed from the media constantly. I choose Love. I want to be mad with love. aaaahhhh. Give me Rumi, Hafiz, and Rilke. Not that they feed the joy and goodness all the time, and they invite the reader to consider a different way to open the heart and listen.
I wanna hear more about all the goodness that’s IS happening out there within the 7M. And, tho’ I don’t embrace my love goddess everyday and imbibe from the pool of light n’ luv, I digging into my positive goodness with vulnerable heart, and inviting the possibility that we find the metaphor that gives us joy in life and git busy living our joy.

7 01 2013
Red Slider

Entirely correct, Geezer…, and entirely my fault to paren “first-response” to some fire-storm of reactivity. Music, dance, poetry, painting can as easily be “first-response” when hyphened to ‘-love’ and ‘-embrace’ as they can to ‘-rant’ and ‘-agony’. “First-response” is a gesture of focus rather than form. A poem for the family of an imprisoned poet telling of the passion of their loved being amplified and world-sent; or a song for physical first-responders after their day of sifting through the ashes of some catastrophe, that they are the visible part of a human sacrament, or the opening of consciousness that it is up to us to un-destroy the best minds of our generation — all can be acts of first-response, acts of love and kindness. So yes, many paths up this mountain. Just a small change of focus, from warning to preventing, from crying out to finding and uplifting. Sorry if I drew the matter too narrowly

7 01 2013
Alice Petrie

Whatever we think, that is what we get. I turned the dial to off, and peace prevails. Poetry comes softly in the peach sky of a winter morning, smells of coffee, Stars are the fastest light going. None of the icons, thank you.

21 03 2013
Alison E. Smith

Reblogged this on aesmithwriter and commented:
It’s poetry day? I think I might carry this poem in my purse, put it on like lipstick when I need to buck up.

21 03 2013
hatto fischer

a poem with red lips is ready to leave a mark
strange to remember the first kiss at dawn
over time we forget logs to haul for the fire place
a failure to warm up a place gone cold
when no longer human breath matters
if only poetry as stranger walks in and lights up
again that cabin we used to frequent on our trips


3 07 2016
Rhyme Pays: National Poetry Month - Daddyelk Dev

[…] This is a free-form Beat poem that employs no rhyme or meter except in the last few lines which is what is below. The entire poem is rather lengthy so I didn’t want to put the whole thing here, but I thought this was a good poem about poetry to start out this month. It is really worth your time to read the whole thing so if you want to do so it can be found here. […]

31 10 2016
Rhyme Pays: National Poetry Month - DaddyElk

[…] This is a free-form Beat poem that employs no rhyme or meter except in the last few lines which is what is below. The entire poem is rather lengthy so I didn’t want to put the whole thing here, but I thought this was a good poem about poetry to start out this month. It is really worth your time to read the whole thing so if you want to do so it can be found here. […]

16 11 2016
Letter from Poland | The Pavellas Perspective

[…] In pursuing the tourism, I went to the English language Massolit Bookstore. The fellow at the cashier and cafe desk is interested in the Beat Poets, as I am. He and I struck up a conversation and I promised to send him a poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. […]

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