When I first read Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind, I was in high school in the mid-1960’s, and like all my friends, I was looking for connection with the world. Ferlinghetti was that connection. Here was a poet who used common words to create layered, nuanced poems that were urban truth and seemed to sing off the page. And he did this using American English in an idiom that flowed as music flows.

Ferlinghetti, is an interaction with his poetry. It’s a collection of short pieces, each one a response to a fragment of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poetry. You might think of each piece as a riff on an image suggested in the fragment. You may find your ears making connections to music you think you know but that is only vaguely there – except in “…a man with a mirror for a head…” where several fragments from works you know are presented backwards for you to discover.

I am grateful to the members of this commissioning consortium and both humbled by and honored by our friendship. Thank you for your trust and talent.

Additional Information:

Song Glossary for "fifty-one clowns in the back all wearing nothing but Stars & Stripes"My Country Lisa Verzella, 'tis of Thee (Samuel Francis Smith; 1831)

1. Entry of the Gladiators (Julius Fu?ik; 1897)

2. The Star Spangled Banner (John Stafford Smith, Francis Scott Key; 1814)

3. Yankee Doodle (Traditional, Richard Shuckburgh; 1770s)

4. Hail to the Chief (James Sanderson, Albert Gamse; 1810)

5. America the Beautiful (Samuel A. Ward, Katharine Lee Bates; 1910)

6. The Battle Hymn of the Republic (William Steffe, Julia Ward Howe; 1861)

7. 1812 Overture (Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; 1880)

8. You're a Grand Old Flag (George M. Cohan; 1906)

9. Stars and Stripes Forever (John Philip Sousa; 1897)

10. How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm? (Walter Donaldson, Joe Young, Sam M. Lewis; 1919)

11. It's a Long Way to Tipperary (Jack Judge, Henry James Williams; 1912)

12. Mademoiselle from Armentières (Harry Carlton, Joe Tunbridge; 1830s, resurrected in 1914)

13. You're in the Army Now (Isham Jones, Tell Taylor, Olaf 'Ole' Olsen; 1917)

14. Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning (Irving Berlin; 1918)

15. Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-bag (Felix Powell, George Henry Powell; 1915)

16. Over There (George M. Cohan; 1917)

17. Keep the Home Fires Burning (Ivor Novello, Lena Guilbert Ford; 1914)

18. The Ballad of the Green Berets (Robin Moore, Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler; 1966)

19. Stalin Wasn't Stallin' (Willie Johnson; 1943)

20. God Bless America (Irving Berlin; 1918)

21. Not Ready to Make Nice (imagined) (Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire, Emily Robison, Dan Wilson; 2006)

22. Deep in the Heart of Texas (Don Swander, June Hershey; 1941)