Americus, Book I
Author: Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Publisher: New Directions (2005)
In less than a year, Lawrence Ferlinghetti won a lifetime achievement award from the Author's Guild, received the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and celebrated the 50th anniversary of his renowned City Lights Bookstore. Now, instead of resting on these many laurels, the elder statesman of American poetry "lights out for the territories" with Book I of his own born-in-the-USA narrative, Americus.
Describing his work as "part documentary, part public pillow-talk, part personal epic . . . a descant, a canto unsung, a banal history, a true fiction, lyric and political . . .," Ferlinghetti merges "certain universal texts, snatches of song, words or phrases, murmuring of love or hate, from Lotte Lenya to the latest soul singer, sayings and shibboleths from Yogi Berra to the National Anthem and the Gettysburg Address or the Ginsberg Address, that haunt our nocturnal imagination . . ."
This sit-up-and-take-notice work breaks new ground in the grand tradition of Whitman, Williams, Olson, and Pound, as Ferlinghetti stalks our literary and political landscapes, past and present, to articulate the unique voice of America and create an autobiography of our collective American consciousness.