STORY B Y PETER FAYR OIAN PHOTOS B Y RA CHAEL WAR ING
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST
A visit with poet and literary pioneer Lawrence Ferlinghetti ’37
THIRTY YEARS AGO,
I entered a small, oakpaneled room at Cranbrook Schools to teach the first class of my first teaching post. Waiting for me were eight students prepared to devour a semester of literature — or their new teacher. The English department’s curriculum dictated an initial unit in poetry, and 30 minutes into the class, my students and I were discussing Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s sweet little poem “Constantly Risking Absurdity.” It describes “the poet like an acrobat” standing on “a high wire of his own making” while above him, “Beauty stands and waits / with gravity / to start her death-defying leap.” The poem closes ambiguously: And he a little charleychaplin man who may or may not catch her fair eternal form spreadeagled in the empty air of existence
The magazine of Northfield Mount Hermon.