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Book Cover for: Selected Poems: 1943-1966 (City Lights Pocket Poets Series, 20), Philip Lamantia

Selected Poems: 1943-1966 (City Lights Pocket Poets Series, 20)

Philip Lamantia

The explosive original American surrealist poet returns in a new edition of a classic.

"This surreal and mantic project drives farther than anything before or after. Breathtaking! These are works of synesthetic beauty to the eye, the ear, and the open interior of the heart."--Michael McClure, author of Ghost Tantras

"I am eager to do a book of yours," Lawrence Ferlinghetti wrote to Philip Lamantia in Nerja, Spain in 1966. "What about SELECTED POEMS OF PHILIP LAMANTIA?" The missive came at the right time, as Lamantia had reembraced the surrealism of his youth and sought to publish his current work alongside his key poems of the 1940s, when the then-15-year-old poet was published by the war-exiled leader of the Surrealist Movement, André Breton. For Breton, the young poet was a new Rimbaud, but Lamantia also became known as a Beat Generation poet, participating in the 1955 Six Gallery Reading, where Allen Ginsberg debuted "Howl." A pioneer of San Francisco's psychedelic culture, Lamantia reemerged through City Lights in time for the Summer of Love.


The sections of Selected Poems each reflect a particular facet of the poet's development. "Revelations of a Surreal Youth (1943-1945)" includes the incendiary poems from his teenage years which brought him to the attention of the NY avant-garde, including his signature piece, "Touch of the Marvelous." "Trance Ports (1948-1961)" covers his Beat years, evincing increasing involvement with mysticism, esoterism, and religion. Finally, "Secret Freedom (1963-1966)" heralds the return of Lamantia's surrealist inspiration, cementing his countercultural bona fides with the LSD-fueled "Blue Grace," the zig-zagging Kundalini-inspired "What Is Not Strange?" and the Aquarian Age ode "Astro-Mancy," which prefigures his later engagement with Native American culture.

This new edition includes an afterword by poet and editor Garrett Caples, recounting the book's genesis through archival correspondence between Lamantia and Ferlinghetti.

Book Details

  • Publisher: City Lights Books
  • Publish Date: Feb 4th, 2025
  • Pages: 120
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 0.00in - 0.00in - 0.00in - 0.00lb
  • EAN: 9780872869349
  • Categories: American - GeneralSubjects & Themes - Love & Erotica

About the Author

Lamantia, Philip: - "Philip Lamantia (1927 - 2005) first came to prominence as a 15-year-old poet in 1943, when he was published in the avant-garde periodical View and, the following year, in André Breton's surrealist magazine in exile, VVV. He subsequently came under the influence of Kenneth Rexroth and participated in the famous 1955 Six Gallery reading, where Allen Ginsberg debuted "Howl." Often considered a poet of the Beat Generation, his association with City Lights began in 1967, when Lawrence Ferlinghetti published Lamantia's Selected Poems: 1943-1966 in the Pocket Poets Series. Following his next book, The Blood of the Air (1970), Lamantia published his remaining books with City Lights, including Becoming Visible (1981), Meadowlark West (1986), and Bed of Sphinxes (1997). He died in San Francisco, CA, in 2005."
Caples, Garrett: - Garrett Caples is a poet and an editor for City Lights Books, where he curates the Spotlight Poetry Series. He has published several poetry collections, including Lovers of Today (Wave, 2021), a book of stories, Proses (Wave, 2024), and a book of essays, Retrievals (Wave, 2014). He lives in San Francisco, CA.
Praise for this book

"A voice that rises once in a hundred years."--André Breton, cofounder of Surrealism

"An American original, soothsayer even as Poe, genius in the language of Whitman, native companion and teacher to myself."--Allen Ginsberg, author of Howl and Other Poems

"You will probably be our greatest living poet since Whitman."--Henry Miller, author of Tropic of Cancer

"Philip Lamantia's poems are about rapture as a condition. They are spiritual and erotic at the same time. Bright and dark, the enclosed polarities of devotion. St. Teresa and Rimbaud."--Tom Clark, author of Truth Game

"The blade-flash of Lamantia's word lode strikes the owl stone, arcs to inspire. A quotidian American surrealism? Sudden array of Lemmy Cautions dashing through a hundred identical hotel doors. Visions for sure. Quick! Akhmatova in Lemuria!"--Clark Coolidge, author The Crystal Text

"A man in command of a wild imagination . . . with a particular place in the ranks of the most important moderns."--Library Journal