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Ferlinghetti: A Rebirth of Wonder
color & b/w. 79+ min. , dist. by First Run Features, 800-229-8575; www.firstrunfeatures.com. 2013. DVD UPC 720229915489. $24.95. LIT
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According to this fascinating biographical documentary, poet, painter, publisher, activist, and businessman Lawrence Ferlinghetti (b. 1919) witnessed D-day from a ship and became a pacifist when he toured Nagasaki six weeks after the 1945 bombing. Earning a PhD from the Sorbonne, he got his political education in Kenneth Rexroth's salon. His bookstore, City Lights, became the social headquarters of the West Coast Beat movement. Yet he may be best known for publishing Allen Ginsberg's Howl (1956) and successfully defending it from police confiscation, a key blow against censorship. Perhaps most amazing of all, he sold a million copies of his poetry book A Coney Island of the Mind (1958). Whimsical and sophisticated, Ferlinghetti has lived a big life and seems to have enjoyed it.
VERDICT If this documentary gets a bit hagiographic, it's well earned. Best of all, the film includes ample footage of San Francisco scenery and of Ferlinghetti declaiming his poetry, often to jazz accompaniment. Recommended for most libraries.

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