The San Francisco Poetry Renaissance

In the 1950s, the small press reemerged as a force in American letters. Lawrence Ferlinghetti began the Pocket Poets Series in 1955 with a volume of his own poetry. Over the next decade, his City Lights Press and Bookstore contributed to making San Francisco synonymous with experimental and protest literature.

The fourth in the series of Pocket Poets, Howl, resulted in an obscenity trial that brought national notoriety to its author Allen Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, City Lights, and the San Francisco poetry movement. The prosecution intended to suppress the message and language of Ginsberg’s poems but instead made him the most famous of the Beat poets and a bellwether of youthful rebellion.

To learn more about the Beat poets:
To learn more about the literary movements of the 1950s and UVa's Tatum collection:

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Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Pictures of the Gone World. The Pocket Poets Series, No. 1.

San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1955. Marvin Tatum Collection of Contemporary Literature (PS3511 .E557 P5 1955)

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Allen Ginsberg, Howl, and Other Poems. The Pocket Poets Series, No. 4.

San Francisco: City Lights Pocket Bookshop, 1956. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature (PS3513 .I74 H6 1956b)

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Letter from Allen Ginsberg, Tangier, Morocco, to Lucien Carr, New York, New York, 28 July 1961.

Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature (MSS 7883)