Inspired by the French poetry series, Poètes d'aujourd'hui, Lawrence Ferlinghetti launched the Pocket Poets Series in 1955 with his own Pictures of the Gone World. The success and scandal of Number Four, Howl & Other Poems (1956), established City Lights as a major alternative press for the most innovative American and international poetry, a tradition the series continues today, at 60 volumes and counting, remaining true to Ferlinghetti's founding vision. "From the beginning," he writes, "the aim was to publish across the board, avoiding the provincial and the academic. I had in mind rather an international, dissident, insurgent ferment. What has proved most fascinating are the continuing cross-currents and cross-fertilizations between poets widely separated by language or geography, from France to Germany to Italy to America North and South, East and West, coalescing in a truly supra-national poetic voice."
"As long as there is poetry, there will be an unknown; as long as there is an unknown there will be poetry. The function of the independent press (besides being essentially dissident) is still to discover, to find the new voices and give voice to them."––Lawrence Ferlinghetti