Poetry—whether on stage, in print, or in song—plays an essential role in San Francisco's literary history. The biennial San Francisco International Poetry Festival, first held in 2007, returns this weekend, July 23 - 26, to celebrate poetry from here and afar. This year's festival, co-hosted by SF Poet Laureate emeritus Jack Hirschman and SF Poet Laureate Diane di Prima, will honor San Francisco Poet Laureate emeritus and City Lights co-founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti. In 1953, Ferlinghetti and Peter Martin opened City Lights Bookstore, "the first all-paperbound bookshop in the country," and two years later started the publishing house that would be known for the iconic covers of the Pocket Poets Series.
Events include nightly readings at the Main Stage (Palace of Fine Arts), workshops, discussions, and even children's events. The festival begins with a Wednesday evening with a screening of Matthew Furey's documentary about Jack Hirschman at the main library's Koret Auditorium. The official kickoff party happens Thursday night in Jack Kerouac Alley with poetry and music, featuring SF singer/songwriter Jonathan Richman (The Modern Lovers). Ferlinghetti is scheduled to read at the Palace of Fine Arts as part of Friday evening's main stage event. The festival closes Sunday with a North Beach poetry crawl from 1:30p-7p, and a final celebration in Washington Square Park at 7:30pm.
All events are free and open to the public.
Here's Ferlinghetti reading on stage many, many years ago: