Review of Ferlinghetti—A Rebirth of Wonder, a documentary by Christopher Felver
Most of his admirers consider the poet, publisher, activist and San Francisco eminence Lawrence Ferlinghetti one of the last major Beat Generation figures standing, but he doesn’t. “Don’t call me a Beat,” he warns in “Ferlinghetti: A Rebirth of Wonder.” “I never was a Beat poet.”
Perhaps not, but as Christopher Felver’s reverent documentary reminds us, he was not just present at the creation of the Beat Generation, he was also, as the publisher of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” one of its midwives. Moreover, Mr. Ferlinghetti’s 1957 acquittal on obscenity charges stemming from the poem’s language (re-enacted in the 2010 film “Howl”) is credited with igniting the free-speech movement and the counterculture that followed.
That status may overshadow Mr. Ferlinghetti’s own literary prowess: the author of A Coney Island of the Mind, he remains among the most popular poets of the modern era.