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A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems Paperback – January 17, 1968

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The poet, publisher, and activist Lawrence Ferlinghetti, born in Yonkers, New York, in 1919, has received the Robert Frost Memorial Medal and the first Literarian Award of the National Book Foundation. He is the subject of Christopher Felver’s new film documentary, Ferlinghetti: A Rebirth of Wonder.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 93 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (January 17, 1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811200418
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811200417
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
This was the first Ferlinghetti I ever got my hands on, and it swept me away into a world from which I have yet to return. The preciseness of his words and the incredible attention to detail make this book well worth the read. It made me fall in love with poetry...and the passion of the heart.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By MLPlayfair on October 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
AAAHHHHH! No one has ever topped Ferlinghetti for his exciting rhythm and electric presentation. Read this collection and discover how much FUN poetry can be. I first discovered these poems in the late '60s, an amazing time to be alive, and I felt that these poems captured some of that spirit uniquely and forever. What I didn't realize was that they also fit in perfectly with the '50s, and later in the '70s, the '80s, and the '90s, as well. And here we are in yet another century and the work holds up better than ever! Whatever you do, READ THEM ALOUD!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Randall Ivey on December 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
Let me start off by saying that, in the run of things, this type poetry is not my favorite. I'm more of a formalist myself, but I couldn't help but be impressed by much of this collection, which, along with Ginsberg's HOWL, kicked off the Beat Movement in American poetry in the 1950's.
This is largely a verbal collage, a compendium of memories, impressions, chants, lists, and lyric fragments. The influence of Whitman is apparent in the freeform meditations on the human body and the populist tone of much of the book. This is a cry for people to throw off the constraints of materialism and return to a simpler way of living. It exalts the earth over industry, art over commerce, individualism over uniformity. In other places the shadows of Eliot and Yeats can be seen; indeed in a couple of poems Ferlinghetti freely borrows from those masters - see "The Junkman'Obbligato", for instance, which echoes Eliot's "The Waste Land" with the repeated refrain "Hurry please it's time."
The book is divided into three sections. There is the title section then a series of seven pieces (including "Junkman") originally written for musical accompaniment and finally some selections from Ferlinghetti's first book PICTURES OF THE GONE WORLD.
Not for all tastes but seminal nevertheless and eye-opening as well.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John P. Morgan VINE VOICE on March 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
I first read Lawrence Ferlinghetti's poem, "Constantly Risking Absurdity" when I was 26 years young. I am now 41 and I still read that poem to remind me that even though my body may be taking on the appearances of getting older, my mind, my spirit, and my soul are just as young as ever.

I believe we grow old not because of time, but what we do or don't do with our time. We let our beliefs become rigid, we let our attitudes harden, we forget what it was like to be flexible and youthful and optimistic about life.

This book opens the mind. It expands the heart. It flows through the soul like honey and lets the "imprisoned splendor" escape through the cracks of the entire psyche. I would suggest reading this book by candlelight with maybe some Lee Morgan or John Coltrane in the background.

It's a book of prayers written by a Beat Priest and every day I thank God that I came across that poem I mentioned earlier in this review it changed my life in a million ways known as well as unknown.

If you are looking for something to bring you to a place of youthful vigor, give this book a try. Remember it's never to late to have a great life.

Peace & Blessings
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Justin Weaver on May 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
...so begins beat poetry's most enduring classic (37 printings and counting!), an encyclical off-the-cuff fusion of hyperpersonal and universal, timeless themes: art, ethics, lust, and beauty. More in-line with the literary tradition of the English language, Lawrence Ferlinghetti thankfully lacks Ginsberg's heavy-handedness and Kerouac's understated moodiness -- there is something buoyant even in Ferlinghetti's most wrenching laments; we always seem to learn something from him (and if we don't, he's willing to laugh it all away with us). Ferlinghetti's knowledge of art and history (and his ability to tie them into his themes), as well as an unusual matter-of-fact (often in medias res) presentation lends an aura of significance to what could otherwise be random musings. Lawrence is the master...if you don't have this book, it's worth the seven bucks (and its weight in gold).
--Justin Laird Weaver <uweavj02@umail.ucsb.edu>
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Timothy S. Aidlin on October 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
I'm very serious about the title of my review: "This book changed my life." It did. My father gave me a copy when I was sixteen (32 now) and from that point I've been an *avid* Ferlinghetti fan. His poems delicately point out the subtle joys, heartaches, and beauty which can be easily overlooked every day.

I cannot recommend this book any more highly. Buy this right now. Buy a few copies and give them to friends and family. I certainly have.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael Gustie on March 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
Ferlinghetti is strange in that he considers himself a man of the people, yet works in a field in which the common man wouldn't normally participate. He writes so that academics won't like him, and fans of bukowski or ginsberg won't necessarily like him. The only poet REMOTELY like him could possibly be Bob Hicok.

Ferlinghetti developed his own style of poetry that's (to paraphrase) not constrained by the limits of the poetic line. It's all over the place, in form and in content. This is his seminal work, and the modern version even contains the best from his previous: Pictures of the Gone World.

He has a sensibility for the turn of a phrase, as we see with "The poet's eye obscenely seeing" and "cast up / the heart flops over / gasping 'Love'. He is in tune with the alienation of the modern age, and although he's far from a "people person", his quiet insights have proven inspiring and invaluable.

His next-best work is probably "starting from san francisco", which contains my favorite poem, "overpopulation" (an oft-overlooked, but great piece of poetry to read aloud). This one, however, is a must-read if you're into a populist aesthetic for poetry. If you like poetry that you can read on fifteen different levels, and isn't really saying anything, this is NOT the book for you.
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