Time of Useful Consciousness

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Lawrence Ferlinghetti's first book since Poetry as Insurgent Art, a new call to action and a vivid picture of civilization moving towards its brink.
New Directions is proud to announce a riveting and galvanizing new book by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. At ninety-three, he shows more power than most any other poet at work today. Ferlinghetti describes his new book, Time of Useful Consciousness, as “a fragmented recording of the American stream-of-consciousness, always westward ...

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Lawrence Ferlinghetti's first book since Poetry as Insurgent Art, a new call to action and a vivid picture of civilization moving towards its brink.
New Directions is proud to announce a riveting and galvanizing new book by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. At ninety-three, he shows more power than most any other poet at work today. Ferlinghetti describes his new book, Time of Useful Consciousness, as “a fragmented recording of the American stream-of-consciousness, always westward streaming; a people’s poetic history in the tradition of William Carlos Williams’ Paterson, Charles Olson’s Maximus, Allen Ginsberg’s Fall of America, and Ed Sanders’ America: a History in Verse. ‘Time of Useful Consciousness, is an aeronautical term denoting the time between when one loses oxygen and when one passes out, the brief time in which some life-saving action is possible.”Ferlinghetti’s first book since Poetry as Insurgent Art, the fierce and immediate Time of Useful Consciousness presents poetry written “in ways that those who see poetry as the province of the few and educated had never imagined” (The New York Times Book Review).

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Editorial Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle
“San Francisco's first poet laureate and its most lyrical town crier.”
“Lawrence Ferlinghetti is a national treasure and the kind of poet laureate we really deserve.”
The Coffin Factory
“Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s engrossing new work, Time of Useful Consciousness, is an ode to modern American myth. At ninety-two, Ferlinghetti has rhythm, he has vision, and he captures the magic energy of Jack Kerouac.”
“Time of Useful Consciousness is a fresh missive from an elderly Beat who has always refused to sit down.”
Christopher Bollen - Interview Magazine
“Ferlinghetti refers to Ginsberg as 'the Whitman of our age,' but Time of Useful Consciousness has that epic, galvanizing, country-hopping voice of a latter-day Good Gray as Ferlinghetti recreates the pioneer spirit of racing west for gold, for freedom, for art, for land, for the hell of it, for life—as well as all the messy stops along the way.”
Library Journal
Nonagenarian Ferlinghetti continues the personal, impressionistic history of America begun in 2004's Americus, Book I, moving westward across "this vast lonely, inchoate continent" with an urgency born of concern about the nation's future and a forceful poetics derived from Whitman and Ginsberg. Caught "in the sweep of history's broken broom," the poet retraces the 20th century's large migrations to such urban centers as Chicago, Las Vegas, and San Francisco ("not really a part of the United States/ a kind of off-shore colony") while calling attention to remnants of small, human intimacies ("Initials in cement in a sidewalk/ enclosed in a heart/ or in the bark of an ancient tree") amid a dense moraine of cultural allusions and dispiriting omens ("home-towns boarded up/ all over America/ stamped out by shopping malls"). VERDICT While there's little here, in either content or craft, that hasn't been written before by Ferlinghetti's predecessors and Beat contemporaries—when have America's poets not thought the country to be in crisis?—this ambitious call to awareness passionately recalls the narrative of a once-robust, truly national spirit that, seemingly dormant, waits to be revived. [See Prepub Alert, 5/7/12.]—Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811220316
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 10/24/2012
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 789,781
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

The poet, publisher, and activist Lawrence Ferlinghetti, born in Yonkers, New York, in 1919, has received the Robert Frost Memorial Medal and the first Literarian Award of the National Book Foundation. He is the subject of Christopher Felver’s new film documentary, Ferlinghetti: A Rebirth of Wonder.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 2, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Time of Useful Consciousness  Lawrence Ferlinghetti  Hard Cover 

    Time of Useful Consciousness 
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti 
    Hard Cover 
    Publisher: New Directions 
    Publication Date: October 24, 2012 
    88 pages 
    ISBN: 9780811220316

         Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Time of Useful Consciousness is a stream-of-conscious poem documenting the conflicted times, inspirational places, and larger-than-life personalities with which Lawrence Ferlinghetti lived and interacted. This is not a Ferlinghetti auto-biography. It is, however, an auto-biographical snap-shot that critiques an enigmatic yet dysfunctional America. 

         The term “Time of Useful Consciousness” refers to the aeronautical idiom that identifies the length of time between when a pilot loses oxygen and when he passes out; that very short interval of time when the action to recover can be taken. Naming the work after this phenomenon seemed to me at first glance a bit unrelated to the content but Ferlinghetti’s belief that we are now, as a culture, living within such a moment brings it all into perspective. He delivers here a concise, cautionary tale of our increasingly gadget-, media-, and tech-obsessed culture, our self-indulgent mentality, and our arrogant outlook toward the rest of the world. With this work he adds to the distinctive saga which he began in Americus. 

         When I read I generally record my first impressions and feelings of the work so that I have a starting point that I might use in my review. When I began Time of Useful Consciousness my first note was this: “Makes me want to grab a pencil and start documenting all the people, places, and events mentioned here. In fact, re-read it just for that purpose.” For me, Lawrence Ferlinghetti always creates entertaining and worthwhile poetry. He’s one of the few living poets that I seek out every time I go into a book store and for good reason – He’s an excellent poet of unnatural ability. Sometimes lost in the haze of the Beat movement Ferlinghetti is, in my opinion, one of the world’s most underrated (or perhaps, under the radar) poets and deserves serious study. Time of Useful Consciousness is a work that every aspiring poet should study and a must-read for anyone that cares about evocative poetry.

    5 out of 5 stars 

    The Alternative 
    Southeast Wisconsin

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