City Lights Pocket Poets Series 1955-2005: From the Collection of Donald A. Henneghan

City Lights Pocket Poet Series

Exhibition curated by Donald A. Henneghan.

In 1953, Lawrence Ferlinghetti co-founded City Lights Bookshop with Peter D. Martin in San Francisco. It was the first all-paperback bookstore in the U.S. Two years later Ferlinghetti launched City Lights Books with the publication of his own first book of poetry, Pictures of the Gone World, Number One in the Pocket Poets Series. The publisher's statement announced that "Pictures of the Gone World is the first volume in the Pocket Poets Series, in which it is planned to make available, in inexpensive form, works by such well-known poets as e.e. cummings, Kenneth Patchen, Kenneth Rexroth, and William Carlos Williams, as well as poetry by younger less known writers who are also doing significant work in the modern idiom, whether it be 'in the American grain' or against it." This exhibition, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Pocket Poets Series, is drawn from the collection of Donald A. Heneghan, who has served on the University of Chicago Library's Visiting Committee and University of Chicago Library Society's Steering Committee. Mr. Heneghan has formed a complete collection of all fifty-seven works in the Pocket Poets Series; many of the volumes in the Heneghan collection are association copies of great interest, inscribed by the poets to other writers or friends. The series includes reprints, translations, and original works. Among the poems now considered part of the American poetry canon first published in the Pocket Poets Series are Allen Ginsberg's Howl and Other Poems (1956, Number Four); and Kaddish and Other Poems (1961; Number Fourteen). Also included in the exhibition are photographs and related materials. In pursuing his goal to "discover, to find the new voices and give voice to them," Ferlinghetti has played an important role in shaping contemporary poetry, along lines similar to the contributions of Harriet Monroe and poetry journal editors featured in the accompanying exhibition, "From Poetry to Verse: The Making of Modern Poetry."

Exhibit Publications & Documents

Exhibit Text

Exhibit Checklist