“I’m taking this trip from Mexico City to the Gulf of Mexico and back without any bag or person– only what I can carry in my pockets. The need for baggage is a form of insecurity.” ~Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Lawrence Ferlinghetti on the benefits of travel:
Sometimes it is better not to know anything about a country when you visit it. Especially it is important not to know its language or languages. Thus every sound, striking the ear like a small bell or animal cry, without any associative meaning, takes on the immediate quality of poetry, the quality of pure color in painting, with the percussive effect of pure sound in a void. It is only as these sounds accumulate inside us that some sort of composite meaning forms itself. Until then, we are like children newly arrived on earth, with virgin timpani, each a tabula rasa upon which all has yet to be written. Herein lies the true fascination of travel, not in the confirmation or contradiction of what we have been led to expect by the perusal of history or the learning of local languages, nor by the recognition of native customs in their similarity or dissimilarity to our own…
Thus it was that I came upon the souk in Marrakesh as a space traveler in a time warp, knowing nothing of the place in which he has landed, with only his senses to inform him of the strange terrain.
And strange it certainly was. Night itself, and I arrived at night, casts its mystery even on the most familiar domestic scene, for night itself is always the eternal unfathomable darkness out of which all is born and into which all is borne in the end. We are merely time travelers in between, fleetingly passing in a patch of sunlight, from shadow to shadow. Every day is a patch of light, however somber or bright, every night a patch of that eternal mystery.
The souk was of that darkness, and it lay everywhere before me.
Excerpted from Writing Across the Landscape, © 2015.
Another excerpt from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s travel journal, Writing Across the Landscape, © 2015:
NIGHT OF MARCH 6 (1972), IN NADI MOTEL– So noisy couldn’t sleep all night. Like a train station: trucks roaring past, people talking in hotel, doors slamming, etc., etc. Bad dreams… 7:15 a.m. we fly out to Australia. Possible that our waking psychic states are mirror images of our sleep & dreams, as the branches of the tree mirror the pattern of the roots? So that the profile of our dreams transfigures our waking moods preceding or following that sleep? The depression or euphorias of dreams carried over into our daytime subliminal feelings… A bad dream may blight our day, a dream of desire carry over into waking sexual aggressions. Of course, it’s all in Freud, all in Wilhelm Reich… The moon is my undoing when the sun comes up, the midnight sun gathers us in, our dream siblings signal us thru the flames.
“I’m tired of waiting for Godot.” ~Lawrence Ferlinghetti, in Junkman’s Obligato ©1958
A Q&A by Lawrence Ferlinghetti following a poetry reading in 1960:
Question by a serious student before a huge crowd at University of Vermont conference: “Sir, how you stand on fornication?”
Answer: “As for fornication, I very seldom stand; I lie down.”
Second question: “Do you really think Christ is dead?”
Answer: “The way the world acts today, you would think so. He’s not here tonight, is he? I don’t see him.”
Voice from the back of the auditorium: “Here I am.”
Excerpted from Writing Across the Landscape, © 2015
Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s travel journals read, not surprisingly, very much like his poetry.
This excerpt from Writing Across the Landscape (© 2015) records his thoughts attending a poetry conference at the Universidad de Concepción in Chili, in the early part of 1960:
The impression I have is that a great fat omnivorous crab named United States of America is sitting on top of the Pan-American hemisphere, sucking the marrow from its soft underside. The Coca-Colonization of the world…
I came across a trove of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s books at the used book store.
I have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy Beat Poetry. (Ferlinghetti denies he is a Beat, but at the very least there’s a kinship.) Anyway, I guess that’s where I am at the moment.