74. A Coney Island of the Mind

About the Poet and the Artist

Lawrence Ferlinghetti was born in 1919 in Yonkers, New York, of Italian immigrant parents. He attended the University of North Carolina, served in the U. S. Navy during World War II, received a Master's degree from Columbia University in 1947 and a Doctorate from the University of Paris (Sorbonne) in 1950. In 1951 he settled in San Francisco, where, in 1953, he founded with Peter D. Martin the landmark City Lights Bookstore, the first all-paperback bookstore in the country. In 1955 he began its publishing arm, City Lights Books. His publication of Allen Ginsberg's Howl in 1956, in its Pocket Poets Series, led to his arrest on obscenity charges. The trial created a sensation and brought national attention to Beat Generation writers and the San Francisco Renaissance literary movement. In addition to his distinguished career as a poet, Ferlinghetti has written fiction, drama, criticism, and translations, and is also an artist, whose paintings are represented in San Francisco by the George Krevsky Gallery. In 2003 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In November 2005 Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Norman Mailer will receive lifetime achievement awards from the National Book Foundation. His recent books are a fortieth anniversary edition of Pictures of a Gone World (1955-1995), A Far Rockaway of the Heart (1997), How to Paint Sunlight (2001), and Americus Book I (2004).

R. B. Kitaj was born in 1932 in Cleveland, Ohio. He studied at Cooper Union Institute; the Academy of Fine Art, Vienna; the Ruskin School of Drawing, University of Oxford; and the Royal College of Art, London, where he became friends with the artist David Hockney. Kitaj remained in London until 1997, when he settled in Los Angeles. A retrospective exhibition of his paintings at the Tate Gallery, London, in 1994 traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In 1999 an exhibition at the National Gallery, London, was entitled "Kitaj in the Aura of Cézanne and Other Masters". An avid reader, Kitaj has many friends among writers and has contributed prints to literary publications with poets such as Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, John Ashbery, and Allen Ginsberg. Arion Press published books of the latter two authors with lithographs by Kitaj: Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1984) and Kaddish, White Shroud, and Black Shroud (1992). As the art critic Robert Hughes wrote in Time magazine: "Kitaj draws better than almost anyone else alive."

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