Lawrence Ferlinghetti, putative father of the Beat Generation, a poet without labels or borders, he died on Tuesday evening, thirty days before he turned one hundred and two. This was reported by his son Lorenzo, explaining how his father died from complications of a lung disease, in San Francisco, where he decided to live in order to embrace his “Italian roots”. Ferlinghetti, in the heart of North Beach, inside a row house, beige and not unlike many others, explained that he had found meaning.
A point of union with the past life, that of a father that fate did not allow him to know.
The poet, who in 1956, alone against censorship and its legal drifts, dared to publish Scream of Allen Ginsberg, he was orphaned of a father even before coming into the world. Carlo Ferlinghetti, a Brescian from New York, died a few months before his son was born, leaving him an amputated surname, “Ferling”, so as not to carry the stench of “peppers and onions”, the obscene imagery then associated to the Italian Americans. Ferlinghetti grew up without a male reference, tossed between Europe and America by the gasps of a problematic family. Childhood was confusing, adolescence punctuated by little and big pranks. He was hungry, Ferlinghetti, whom an aunt’s employers suggested to study journalism. The boy, who would have enlisted in the Navy to fight the Second World War and come out as a staunch defender of the pacifist ideology, received the advice kindly. He studied, and left for Paris, to then move to San Francisco, where aprì la City Lights, first a bookshop, then a publishing house that would change the history of the United States of America and, at the same time, shape post-war Western thought.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti was the great discoverer of the Beat Generation, the only one who had the courage to publish its manifesto. He published his own poetry collections, he helped Jack Kerouac, who wrote about him in Big Sur. He devoted himself to art and art voted his own life, an anarchist thinker as the patron saint of the city who helped make it the nerve center of American culture.