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Fri, Mar. 11th, 2005, 10:09 pm
Long live Philip Lamantia

Philip Lamantia - a sublime poet whose work was published by City Lights, has died. I had seen him read his poems on two or three occassions. An article ran in today's San Francisco Chronicle. "Philip Lamantia, the blazing San Francisco poet whose embrace of Surrealism and the free flow of the imagination had a major influence on the Beats and many other American poets, died Monday of heart failure at his North Beach apartment. He was 77. . . . "

Lamantia began writing poetry in grade school and was expelled from junior high for "intellectual delinquency" when he immersed himself in the work of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. At age sixteen, after being introduced to surrealism by the Miro and Dali retrospectives at the San Francisco Museum of Art, he began to write surrealist poetry. Shortly afterward, Lamantia left home to join the Surrealists in New York City and was welcomed by Andre Breton as "a voice that rises once a hundred years." In 1955, he was the first poet who read at the famous Six Gallery reading where his friend Allen Ginsberg first read Howl.

This page contains links to many informative essays and articles. Here is a splendid portrait of the poet by Harry Redl.