Book Review: Time of Useful Consciousness

“Time of Useful Consciousness”
A book by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Ferlinghetti has published more than 30 books of poetry, but he’s best known for his first book, “A Coney Island of the Mind,” which came out in 1958 and has since sold more than a million copies worldwide. Since then, Ferlinghetti has published innumerable poems, prose and essays, turned to painting—the cover of “Time of Useful Consciousness” is one of his pieces—and worked tirelessly to promote culture, poetry and the spoken word in San Francisco, largely through City Lights Bookstore, which he co-founded in 1953. He shows no sign of slowing down. This new book may not be his strongest, but its best moments reveal a mind as alert and alive as ever.

Ferlinghetti has long stood with protest poets and writers of engagement. He was arrested for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” in 1957. “Only the dead are disengaged,” he wrote half a century ago, his words as relevant today as then, a firm kick in the pants to any artist who remains silent against oppression.


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