There wouldn't be a Beat Museum were it not for Lawrence Feelinghetti. Poet, painter, publisher, businessman, World War II veteran, anarchist, pacifist - Lawrence Ferlinghetti changed not only America, but the world.
You would not want to call him a "Beat" to his face. To be sure, while he was friends with all of the well-known members of The Beat Generation - Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs, Cassady, di Prima, Corso, Kaufman, weiss, Spicer, Michelene, McClure, Snyder, Welch, Whelan, Kandel and hundreds of other poets, writers and painters, "I was the publisher of The Beats," he would say. "I myself, I was more of a Bohemian."
Labels notwithstanding, Lawrence Ferlinghetti's name will forever be associated with The Beat Generation. From the moment he decided to publish what he knew would be a controversial book, Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," the die was cast. There was no turning back.
And here is something most people just don't know: Ferlinghetti set the whole thing up. He knew what the rules were. He knew you couldn't print certain words in a book in the United States of America in 1956. Lawrence Ferlinghetti expected to be arrested for his actions. So he did the smartest thing you could imagine - he sent a pre-release copy of "Howl" to the American Civil Liberties Union to ask their legal opinion. He was testing the system, and he was willing to risk jail to see if he was right. The rest, of course, is history.
SERIES OF PROGRAMS CELEBRATING LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI