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Time of Useful Consciousness (Americus) by…

Time of Useful Consciousness (Americus)

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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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 ( )
  TheAlternativeOne | Jan 2, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811220311, Hardcover)

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).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:01 -0400)

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