It’s hard to think of any living person more representative of the spirit of San Francisco than Lawrence Ferlinghetti. This is the man who co-founded City Lights as a bookstore as well as a publishing house, who stood trial on obscenity charges after Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” was confiscated by the police, and who has published books by poets and writers from around the world. Those include works by Diane diPrima, William S. Burroughs, Gary Snyder, and Howard Zinn. Ferlinghetti served as San Francisco’s poet laureate from 1998 to 2000 and has his seen his influential 1958 collection A Coney Island of the Mind sell a mind-boggling 1 million copies in a dozen languages. At 92 he’s still writing and publishing, and tonight you can hear him debut his new poem, “At Sea,” in person. Whether he’s reading to a crowd packed in among the bookshelves at City Lights or a full house at the Palace of Fine Arts, Ferlinghetti knows how to command a room, and on this occasion he is joined by poet and co-conspirator Jack Hirschman, who also has fresh work to share. Hirschman is well known in literary circles for his role in bringing an impressive roster of international poets to the city for festivals large and small. The two men have been good friends for years, and have stories to share after they finish reading their poetry. Juicy historical tidbits are guaranteed.
Fri., Nov. 4, 7 p.m., 2011