[GINSBERG, Allen; FERLINGHETTI, Lawrence; PATCHEN, Kenneth, et al.]. The Pocket Poets Series. A run of the first 25 volumes.

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[GINSBERG, Allen; FERLINGHETTI, Lawrence; PATCHEN, Kenneth, et al.] The Pocket Poets Series. A run of the first 25 volumes San Fransisco, The City Lights Bookshop, 1955-1968

Small 4vos; 25 volumes, all in original publishers card wrappers printed in a variety of colours including yellow, red, blue and green; some including black and white photographs; Vols 21 and 22 with cover illustrations/photographs; overall light shelf wear and marking, all minimal; Vol 3 with some light marking to covers, spotting to prelims and outer edge, and toned along the spine; Vol 5 and 6 with small water stains to covers; Vol 7 with previous owners ink initials to front cover; Vol 16 spine expertly reinforced; Vol 19 with corner crease to upper cover; Vol 22 with previous ownership name in ink to title; some covers a little rubbed to extremities, others a little toned to the wraps; a remarkably fresh set.
First Editions, first printings all, beginning with Pictures of The Gone World by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1955) and Ending Hunk of Skin by Pablo Picasso (1968).
"Printer's ink is the greater explosive" stated the influential poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
The City Lights Pocket Poets Series was a revolutionary series of poetry collections compiled by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and published by his City Lights Book Store in San Fransisco. Founded in 1953, Ferlinghetti had met Peter Martin, his co-founder and a student at San Francisco State University, outside the Artigues building in North Beach, handling a sign of announcement emblazened with words that would later come to hold a great significance; " A Pocket Book Store". The series was later responsible for promoting the iconoclastic body of work which included names as ground-breaking as Frank O'Hara, Kenneth Patchen, Bob Kaufman, William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg to name merely a few.
"I saw the best minds of my generaiton destroyed by madness…:." cried out Allen Ginsberg.
The iconic bold, minimalist style of the Pocket Poet Series, devoid of illustration, was an aesthetic representaiton of the brazen, harsh truths emanating from voices as loud and disurptive as that of Ginsberg's Howl. In fact, the legendary format of series - typically six inches long and five inches wide - was a salute to the styles of its contemporary political publications, such as the awakening of the International Workers of The World, therby further cementing its status as a radical left-wing outlet. Indeed, it was the scandal caused by the publishing of Volume Number Four, Howl and Other Poems (1956) that granted Pocket Poets its vanguard position as one of the crucial catalysts of an emerging literary counterculture. This particular issue led to a famous obscenity charge that was eventually overturned with the aid of the Americn Civil Liberties Movement but only served to positively elevate the importance of the series, its press, and its owner. For this publication, Ferlinghetti was arrested leading to a famous First Amendment Trail in America in 1957 - he was later acquitted.
Ferlinghetti wanted to publish poetry in an affordable format that could reach an audience beyond the usual rich literary patrons and this inexpensive paperback collection offered the world its first introduction to the San Fransisco Renaissance and the riotous language of the Beat Generation. However, it was not strictly limited to these movements. It also published pioneering authors in translation as well as other international comrades, therefore contributing to its ever diverse spread of thinkers and artists inventing new vocabularies and forms (Prevert, Picasso, Parra). Ferlinghetti described his intention as such; "I had in mind rather an international, dissident, insurgent ferment".
"You are Whitman, you are Poe, you are Mark Twain, you are Emily Dickinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay, you are Neruda and Mayakovsky and Pasolini, you are an American or a non-American, you can conquer the conquerors with words...." wrote Ferlinghetti in Poetry an Insurgent Art {I am signalling you through the flames}
The City Lights Pocket Poet Series achieved this insurreciton through the subversive literary anarchy it enabled. In 2001, City Lights was made an official historic landmark, appreciated for having played "a seminal role in the literary and cultural development of San Francisco and the nation."
To own the first 25 Volumes of this cult series in their first edition form - a series which championed voices who were to forever change generations of the avant-garde - is a rare thing indeed, especially so with Howl in such condition.