In the January issue of The New Yick Times, the newspaper by elementary school students at San Francisco’s Yick Wo Elementary School, Lawrence Ferlinghetti was interviewed in his home (photo above) by Penelope Bloom Aprile. The interview took place on November 6, 2016. Here it is for your enjoyment, re-purposed for the City Lights Blog with their permission:
New Yick Times: When you were a little boy, what was one of your Halloween costumes?
Lawrence Ferlinghetti: When I was a kid, I remember I wore a pumpkin on my head, like a head. Once, as a grown up, we were celebrating Halloween at City Lights Bookstore, and I wore a Dada costume. Dada was a poetic movement started in Switzerland and France, and it was all crazy people doing crazy things.
NYT: Did you play any sports?
LF: I played basketball . . . but in those days you didn’t have to be seven feet tall.
NYT: Did you like writing poems from a young age or when you grew up?
LF: I didn’t really start till I was grown up. I didn’t know what I was doing when I was a kid. I think I was in the deep dream.
NYT: Were you scared when you moved from different families?
LF: I didn’t think like that at all. So I was adopted into another family, and they were nice to me, but I missed my original family.
NYT: What is your most beautiful memory and the saddest one?
LF: My favorite memory is my years in Paris as a student. My saddest is the 2016 Presidential election.
NYT: How did you survive in World War II?
LF: I was lucky, I had a guardian angel watching over me, because I was in the Normandy invasion there were bombs dropping all around me and nothing hit me. So I think it was a guardian angel watching over me.
NYT: What is the secret of life?
LF: Tenderness, live with tenderness.