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Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Paintings

Posted 06-22-2012 at 08:59 PM by ChrisGeorge
Updated 06-25-2012 at 03:07 PM by ChrisGeorge
Yes, the title reads correctly. He has an exhibition of his paintings opening up today, June 23, at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art and showing through September 23. There are some of examples of his artwork in the latest, July-August, issue of Poetry magazine. I don't subscribe but have been picking up the issues in this the periodical's centennial year, as I noted in a recent blog entitled "A Hundred Years of Pegasus."

As you might anticipate, seeing Ferlinghetti's name on the cover of the new issue, I plucked the magazine from the shelf fully expecting to read some poetry by Ferlinghetti, having been an admirer of his work since I saw a video of him reading "Dog" while I was attending Loyola College here in Baltimore circa 1969. I came across a nice Youtube video of five of his poems including "Dog" uploaded by PoemsBeingRead. Check it out.

Can't say I am too fussy about your art, Lawrence, sorry... a bit on the messy side, with a smudgy Jasper Johns feel to it, but I do like your poetry. I almost met you once, back in 1982 when I attended a poetry extravaganza at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Ginsberg was there and Gregory Corso along with English pop poet Adrian Mitchell and three Liverpool poets that I like, the late Adrian Henri, Brian Patten and Roger McGough. Also British poets Basil Bunting, aging, grizzled, and looking like Ezra Pound with a blanket over his thin legs, as I told him later after the show at a gathering at the Chelsea Arts Club, and Roy Fisher. Although you were on the program, you couldn't make it over to London. If I recall correctly you had been in a car accident which explained your absence. My loss!

The Liverpool triumvirate of poets, Henri, Patten, were heavily influenced by you and Ginsberg, and the other Beats. And didn't Allen declare in 1965 that "Liverpool is at the present moment the center of consciousness of the human universe." Pop poetry created in the Beatles' wake.

Adrian Henri was a painter as well as a poet. He painted a dramatic painting of tributes laid on the ground after the April 1989 football (soccer) disaster at Hillsborough, Yorkshire, in which 96 fans died when they were crushed and the authorities were slow in responding to the emergency. For shame. That's the painting below, "Flowers for Liverpool."

You can hear Adrian's elegy on the tragedy, "The Bell", if you go here.

Adrian told me that he felt in the shadow of Adrian Mitchell, now also now sadly passed on. But while Mitchell's work might have garnered more attention for its leftist political stances, Adrian Henri's work was softer edged and I think more heartfelt and poetic. I miss him.

Flowers for Liverpool by Adrian Henri, 1989
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