From Publishers Weekly
Combining a Whitmanesque celebration of the earthy with a nod to the surrealist tradition, Ferlinghetti (Wild Dreams of a New Beginning) blasted his way into public consciousness with the 1958 publication of A Coney Island of the Mind, marking him as one of the Beat poets, though his more refined poetic sensibility showed just how different he was from what "Beat" came to mean. This compendium of work from throughout his career, including 27 new poems, reveals an ongoing interest in matters political and sexual. Unlike Ginsberg, whose Collected Poems showed an artist struggling with decline and decay, Ferlinghetti seems to maintain his calm in the face of age; "The Rebels," from a 1984 collection, shows a remarkable stylistic similarity to his famous 1958 "Constantly Risking Absurdity." But where the latter poem borders on a now-cloying self-consciousness, the former shows a subtle reflectiveness in the face of nature, as well as a recognition of his connection with readers. Regardless, it's exciting to revisit in one volume work like "I Am Waiting," "An Elegy on the Death of Kenneth Patchen" and "Endless Life" in this collection by one of America's most popular poets.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Reading this hefty selection from 12 previous volumes, plus 50 pages of new poems, we realize how accurately the poet described himself in 1979: a man who "thinks he's Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan rolled together with Charlie Chaplin thrown in." Ferlinghetti is the foremost chronicler of our times, continually in the front lines with an elegy or antiwar poem (this collection opens with a poem written after the murder/suicide in Waco, Texas). His style is recognizable throughout--phlegmatic poems running several pages, often lacking stanza breaks, with short lines at the left margin or moving across the page as hand follows eye. He can break into a list or a rhyme. Though humor comes through in his play on words and his ability to toss in literary tidbits at inappropriate moments, it isn't all fun and games; selections from his 1984 volume show a meditative eye as the poet watches young Parisians while nostalgic about his own youth. Essential.
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- Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, "Soho Weekly News," New York
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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