Nina Serrano and Jack Foley—KPFA’s interwoven pair—are back again as May jumps into the calendar (May Day! M’aidez!). A special feature of today’s program will be a celebration of the great California (Oakland-born) poet, Robert Duncan (1919-1988). There will be an international celebration of Duncan at the Sorbonne from June 12 to June 14, but today’s show is strictly home grown. Nina and Jack will also contribute their special brand of hi-jinks.

On today’s show, continuing his celebration of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack will read selections from his essay on the poet. The essay ends: Ferlinghetti remains, in his own phrase, a poet of “the splendid life of the world” (“Endless Life”)—a life which is always vanishing. The questions his work raises, however, are by no means trivial ones.Is poetry like painting, a visual art? Is it like music, an oral/aural art? Is the poet a public figure, and, if so, what kind of a public figure? How is it possible to create a space for art in a country where art is notoriously devalued (“In two hundred years of freedom / we have invented / the permanent alienation of the subjective / almost every truly creative being / alienated & expatriated / in his own country”—“Adieu à Charlot”)? What is the relationship between books and “the media”? How does one create an audience for poetry? What is the relationship of our ethnic identities to our “American” selves? (Immigration is a mode of “passage” and colors that theme in Ferlinghetti.) These are not dead issues but living perplexities, questions which any conscious poet continues to ask at this moment. Ferlinghetti’s work helps to create a powerful “space” in which some kind of clarification of these issues may be possible. At a recent exhibition of his paintings, he remarked, “I hope nobody gets the idea that just because it’s more institutional…that I don’t have some subversive intent, or that Eros is at rest.” To be sure, his vision is of a kind we call “Romantic.” But, as Robert Creeley suggests in Echoes, the problems the Romantics posited are still with us—we are all “Romantics”: “whatsover [is] ‘Rome’ [is] home.” These Are My Rivers is a fine exploration of the condition of America 1955-1993.

Jack Foley’s essay on Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “The Splendid Life of the World,” appeared in both “Poetry Flash” and in Jack’s book, “O Powerful Western Star.” On today’s show, continuing his celebration of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack will read selections from the essay. The essay begins,

“I gave it to my students and they adored it. I wanted them to like it. But they adored it.” Thus a teacher friend of mine on Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “A Coney Island of the Mind,” first published in 1958 and still in print. Ferlinghetti himself remarks that poets often complain about his work’s clarity: “It isn’t opaque enough, it’s too easy to understand.” I answered that people were mixing him up with another poet. They were expecting him to be Ezra Pound, and he wasn’t Ezra Pound; he was Lawrence Ferlinghetti. But of course one may ask: Who is Lawrence Ferlinghetti?

If the Mueller report has you down, if the internet keeps quitting on you, if the skies in sunny California are gray gray gray, try pepping up and having a cup o’ cheer with Nina Serrano and Jack Foley, KPFA’s interwoven pair. Today’s show will feature a short segment featuring Thomas Stanton, Poet Laureate # 7 of Benicia. Mr. Stanton is, says Nina, famous locally for being “not understandable.” Stanton himself remarks that “Clarity is not my strong point.”Another segment will be a tribute to Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who turned one hundred years old on March 24, 2019

Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti was born in 1919. On March 24, 2019 he turned 100 years old. Today’s show is a celebration of Ferlinghetti’s career. On April 21, 1994, I interviewed Lawrence at City Lights. The subject of the interview was his then new book, These Are My Rivers: New and Selected Poems. Though the interview is almost a quarter of a century old, I think you’ll find it as fresh today as it was when it was first recorded.

Lanterns Hanging on the Wind is a fabulous collection of music and poetry celebrating the resilience, the musicality, and the expressiveness of the Vietnamese language. Among the featured poets are Tuyết Nga, Lưu Quang Vũ, Xuân Quỳnh, Nguyễn Quang Thiều, Bùi Hoàng Tám, Trần Quang Quý, Giang Nam, Ngô Tự Lập, and Nguyễn Bảo Chân. Hosted by Jack Foley.

VALENTINE’S DAY SHOW Valentine’s Day is—or has become—a celebration of love. Saint Valentine was martyred—beheaded—on February 14, so that day became his Feast Day. The flower-crowned skull of Saint Valentine resides in a basilica in Rome. His story, like the story of so many saints, is coated over with legend, poetry, fiction, so that “fact” … Continued