March 24, 1919 (Yonkers, New York) – February 22, 2021 (San Francisco, California)
We are sad to announce that Lawrence Ferlinghetti, distinguished American poet, artist, and founder of City Lights Booksellers and Publishers, has died in San Francisco, California. He was 101 years old.
Ferlinghetti was instrumental in democratizing American literature by creating (with Peter D. Martin) the country's first all-paperback bookstore in 1953, jumpstarting a movement to make diverse and inexpensive quality books widely available. He envisioned the bookstore as a "Literary Meeting Place," where writers and readers could congregate to share ideas about poetry, fiction, politics, and the arts. Two years later, in 1955, he launched City Lights Publishers, which became a seminal force in shaping American literature.
For over sixty years, those of us who have worked with him at City Lights have been inspired by his knowledge and love of literature, his courage in defense of the right to freedom of expression, and his vital role as an American cultural ambassador. His curiosity was unbounded and his enthusiasm was infectious, and we will miss him greatly.
We intend to build on Ferlinghetti's vision and honor his memory by sustaining City Lights into the future as a center for open intellectual inquiry and commitment to literary culture and progressive politics. Though we mourn his passing, we celebrate his many contributions and give thanks for all the years we were able to work by his side.
We will invite the public to a celebration of Lawrence Ferlinghetti's life at some point later this year, but there is no immediate plan in place.
When plans are finalized, we'll announce them widely via social media, our website, and in the mainstream media. For news, please keep an eye on this website, check the official Ferlinghetti Facebook page, and sign up for our newsletter to keep informed about everything happening at City Lights.
For media inquries, contact Stacey Lewis: firstname.lastname@example.org