First, Kate pointed out a discrepancy in Ferlinghetti's global statement
that poets must be in opposition to the government.. She was correct in her
statement. Ferlinghetti was not opposed to the Peace Corps or the Civil
Rights legislation or the Social Security Act. All acts of his government.
Ferlinghetti is opposed to certain political ideas and is very vocal in
stating so. He does not apply his anti-war rhetoric evenly. A
Ferlinghetti poet was not expected to voice opposition to the war in Bosnia
or to the U S unilateral armed invasion of Haiti.
Second, Ferlinghetti is a book seller. He is rightly famous for being the
publisher and book seller who printed and sold Ginsburg's work. He was
wrongly prosecuted for publishing and selling that work. He is not famous
as a poet. He is famous as a selective dissident.
I would expect that the Ferlinghetti talk I heard this summer in Sun Valley
was much the same as the one that Michael heard on NPR.
There are many honest and ethical anti-war poets, Robert Creeley and Denise
Levertov come immediately to mind. They were/are universally opposed to
war of any sort by any one. There were/are many honest and ethical
pacifist poets who are also anarchists. Gary Snyder and Ginsburg come to
Not all poets are anti-government or anti-war. Virgil, Shakespeare and
Kipling come immediately to mind. Although he had his troubles with a
specific government I would not count Dante very far into the anarchist
column Traitors are allotted a low position in Hell. Pound was definitely
in favor of government. The more autocratic the better. Pound just didn't
like the individuals Churchill or Roosevelt. Charles Olson was a democrat
party operative for the Roosevelt administration.
Ferlinghetti seems to find puerile pleasure in being a selective dissident.
At his age he needs to start growing up.