Lawrence Ferlinghetti the last of the beat generation – by Biagio Propato

Marzo 7, 2021
Redazione Cultura
Per leggere questo articolo ti servono: 8minuti

When the myth dies, history is born!
When  man dies, the poet is born!

After a lot of generations: burned, lost  and found, a new generation is born: the Beat Generation! The word Beat has  an ancipite meaning : defeated or blessed? Or both?

Lawrence Ferlinghetti had a good,  fantastic and brilliant insight, when he  published  ” Howl”, despite the indictment and then the prison, because of the  content, sometimes considered obscene and antisocial by official criticism, of the long, prosodic, narrative, psychelic poem, structured on a Jazz- Bebop rhythm, written all in one breath, by the young and singular AEDO of Paterson, New Jersey, embodying all the Spirit of the majestic American Bard of democracies, of individual and collective freedoms, simplicity, visionary lucidity, justice, truth and wisdom, in the magical instantaneous action: Walt Withman.

Bravely, Ferlinghetti, as editor, gave wings to “Howl” , to fly  everywhere and the verse of the incipit:” I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness”, continues to flow  throughout the world, beyond the pages, perhaps more in Europe than in America and  its natural, realistic, icastic representation  still echoes rebellion, sorrow and happiness of that genetation,
in our mind, in our heart, like a Mantra, the same Mantra that  Guru Allen  sang  from the unstable stage built on the warm sand of the dunes, which on the  second day collapsed on itself, in the two incredible, mythical nights of Castel Porziano, to appease the crowd of hippies, hipsters, beatniks, freaks, communists, anarchists, libertarians, who went there hoping to find musicians instead of poets, music and concerts instead of poetry and readings.

Ferlinghetti represents the cleanest part of that kinda writers, painters, musicians, poets of the now famous “Beat” period.
In one of his poems, ” Big Fat Hairy vision Of Evil”,  translated and published, by Fernanda Pivano, in 1964, on her anthology, “Poesia degli ultimi americani”, “Poetry of the last Americans”, he shows, in a peculiar way, his  point  of view, about the world and the whole creation, the dychotomy between good and evil and writing as follows, he establishes and declares, his  poetics.

Evil evil evil/world is evil/ life is evil/ all is evil/ if I ride the horse of hate/ with its evil hooked eye/ turning world to evil/ evil is death warmed over/evil is Live spelledb backward/ evil is  Lamb burning bright/ evil is love fried  upon a spit/ and turned upon itself/” and keeping on:
“Naked lunch is evil lunch/ because it is the brunch of hate/ I am not ready to eat it/I am not that hungry/ I am afraid/ I cannot run forever

From a strictly formal  approach,
It is important to note that in this poetic construct, there is no  sign of interpunction and  monhemies, morphemes and phonemes, flow on the white meadow, following the course of a primordial fluid,  without any external contamination:almost a stream of consciousness.

Is he  talking about  William Burroughs Seward II and his novel, “The naked lunch“? Maybe he is referring to the originins of evil in the garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve were naked, when they ate the forbidden fruit, making a mortal transgression.

However, he never is ambiguous, never belongs  to  evil and its roots and seems to agree with Agostino D’Ippona’s  idea, well known as: “Privatio boni”, that is :” Evil is an absence of good”.

The well- behaved, multifaceted and gentle poet of San Francisco, rather than an anglosaxon influence, has a Latin, Mediterranean feeling, certainly due to his Italian descent.

The end is already contained in the principle! Death does not exist! Death is born with life! Man, instinctively knows all this, but intellectually, does not accept this condition of  the ephemeral in infinity and therefore is forced to exorcise the fateful event, to drive it away.

Hamlet’s anguish  pervades the  many generations over the centuries, until this day
and when the final moment comes, no one is  happy, ready to receive it, prepared to go, toward infinity and beyond.

Perhaps running the risk of  appearing a little bit narcissist, at this point, I would like to quote myself, with the four verses of the last stanza of the fifth song, of my book,” Ora e Plutonio”, ” Now and plutonium”,
written in 1986 and published  in 2010, by Nuova Cultura, New Culture, Rome.

” I grandi uomini sanno sin da piccoli/
il loro cammino, e non ridono, non piangono, / eterei camminano senza Patti col tempo:/ eterei anche sulla nuda terra.”/

” Great Men know from an early age/ their path, and they do not laugh, they do not cry, / ethereal they walk without pacts with time:/ ethereal  even on bare earth. “/

 And Ferlinghetti was a great man, poet, artist, publisher, philanthropist, always ready to sacrifice himself for the  others, without sparing himself.
His extensive artistic and human work has represented and represents a significant moment in american alternative culture.

A giant of the  creative, eclectic, visionary culture, of his time!

His City Lights Bookstore will continue to be a Melting Pot of races, of ideas, of creativity, for future generations.
His breath will remain unscathed, even now that he is no longer here: the last of the Beat Generation…
the last of the Mohicans, in the earthly and celestial prairies.

Ferlinghetti had the ability to ironize about death, abou his death and with some verses  of the poem ” The man who rode away”, written long ago, 1962, he shows  how he imagines his departure.

” Above Taos now/ I peer to the crack/ of your locked door/ Dead Lawrence/ and there indeed I see/ they’ve got you now at last/ safely stashed away/ locked away from the light/ of your dear sun/ in the weird great dark/ of your little/ shuttered shrine/ with the dark brown cover…your tin phoenix tacked to a tree/ drops in a giftshop window/ a mistral wind / rattles the pine needles of your bones”/

What else?  “Death shall have no dominion”,  Dylan Thomas. ” Verrà la morte e avrà i tuoi occhi.”, Cesare Pavese…
Death, death, Death has lost her memory…


We  are going to go where we already are ,right now, but we do not realize  we are here and there: two eyes in the same EYE…

and so…

sailing aimlessly, in this passing life, I had the pleasure and the honour of meeting Lawrence Ferlinghetti personally, in 1979, at Castel Porziano ( International poetry festival – Italy) and his image, after  about half a century, still remains in my mind, petrified, fresh as a rose just bloomed  in the virgin lawns of spring, warm as the myriads of grains of dust, lifted from his feet  on his way to a “DOVE”, already here now, clear and  metaphysical, in his noble person, in his true pure surreal verses, and life…

” Horse will puke on me
Poop his baked potatoes out of me
in death’s insanity
and I will eat that naked lunch
That turns me into him
In the death of that god
which is consciousness itself
ah but I will not look out
before that date
Thru Horse’s fur windows
and vomit landscapes!

Rome, 28/02/ 2021

Biagio Propato

Biagio Propato Blasius fotografato da Krystyna Maria Wolczynska

Biagio Propato Blasius Nasce in Basilicata ma si trasferisce giovanissimo a Roma, dove tuttora risiede. Laureatosi in Lingue e Letterature straniere, sarà per trent’anni insegnante di inglese.
A partire dagli anni ottanta lavorerà anche come critico letterario, collaborando a note riviste del settore, come Inchiostri e Il battello ebbro. Intanto intreccia profonde amicizie con poeti del calibro di Dario BellezzaDante Maffia e Vito Riviello.
Il 1986 è l’anno della sua prima pubblicazione: il poema Gobi – Viaggio nel negativo (Edizioni Moloch), con prefazione di Maffia. Il libro racconta di una traversata al di là del tempo e dello spazio, una ricerca attraverso i sentieri nascosti che compongono la trama letale del deserto interiore, nel quale il Poeta si sente un disperso e al contempo un invincibile padrone. Particolare attenzione va rivolta al linguaggio di questo poema, che propone una struttura metrica assolutamente originale, e che presenta un continuo ricorso alla metafora e al simbolo, come strumenti mistici e visionari attraverso i quali svelare il senso del Vero e dell’Assoluto. Il libro risente dell’influsso dei modelli letterari che accompagnano Biagio Propato sin dalla giovinezza, ovvero gli autori della Beat Generation (l’autore definisce Allen Ginsberg come il suo “maestro”), i romantici inglesi (John Keats) e i grandi poeti dell’Ottocento francese (Baudelaire e Rimbaud).
Negli anni seguenti sarà molto attivo soprattutto come promotore di cultura, organizzando insieme a David Colantoni, nel noto quartiere romano di San Lorenzo, una lunga serie di serate letterarie, a cui partecipano i più grandi nomi della letteratura contemporanea.
Nel 2009 Propato realizza, insieme al giovane regista Toni D’Angelo, un documentario dal titolo Poeti, presentato con successo alla Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica di Venezia[1]. Il film si interroga sulla possibilità di ripetere in epoca odierna un evento simile al grande Festival poetico che ebbe luogo nella località di Castel PorzianoMostra nel 1979 (a cui Propato stesso prese parte). In seguito il dubbio diventa ancora più forte e importante, riferendosi al senso stesso della Poesia. Roma è la vera protagonista del documentario, in cui appare una vasta e suggestiva gamma di interpreti letterari, dai cosiddetti poeti “underground” a quelli “ufficiali” (come l’amico Dante MaffiaMaria Luisa Spaziani ed Elio Pecora).
Le più recenti pubblicazioni di Biagio Propato sono Solo un poema rotolante (2009) e Ora e plutonio (2010), edite dalla casa editrice Nuova Cultura.
la Cultura di Young, diretta da David Colantoni.
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