Beat poet and City Lights Books founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti dead at 101

An icon of the Beat era, Lawrence Ferlinghetti passed away yesterday at the age of 101. Ferlinghetti was a poet, an artist, a cultural ambassador, and the founder of City Lights Bookstore and Publishing. He retained a sharp mind and continued to rabble rouse and offer thoughtful critiques on social issues and the changing landscape of San Francisco well into his 90s.

Ferlinghetti was instrumental in democratizing American literature by creating (with Peter D. Martin) the country's first all-paperback bookstore in 1953, jumpstarting a movement to make diverse and inexpensive quality books widely available. He envisioned the bookstore as a "Literary Meeting Place," where writers and readers could congregate to shares ideas about poetry, fiction, politics, and the arts. Two years later, in 1955, he launched City Lights Publishers with the objective of stirring an "international dissident ferment." His inaugural edition was the first volume of the City Lights Pocket Poets Series, which proved to be a seminal force in shaping American poetry.

More at The Guardian (Thanks, Papasan!)

image: City Lights