Ronald K.L. Collins and David M. Skover discuss the subject of their new book **_The People v. Ferlinghetti : The Fight to Publish Allen Ginsberg’s Howl _**published by Rowman & Littlefield
Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s name does not appear in any First Amendment treatise or casebook. And yet when the best-selling poet and proprietor of City Lights Books was indicted under California law for publishing and selling Allen Ginsberg’s poem, Howl, Ferglinghetti buttressed the tradition of dissident expression and ended an era when minds were still closed, candid literature still taboo, and when selling banned books was considered a crime.
The People v. Ferlinghetti is the story of a rebellious poet, a revolutionary poem, an intrepid book publisher, and a bookseller unintimidated by federal or local officials. There is much color in that story: the bizarre twists of the trial, the swagger of the lead lawyer, the savvy of the young ACLU lawyer, and the surprise verdict of the Sunday school teacher who presided as judge. With a novelist’s flair, noted free speech authorities, Ronald K. L. Collins and David Skover tell the true story of an American maverick who refused to play it safe and who in the process gave staying power to freedom of the press in America. The People v. Ferlinghetti will be of interest to anyone interested the history of free speech in America and the history of the Beat poets.
Ronald K.L. Collins is Harold S. Shefelman Scholar, University of Washington School of Law.
David M. Skover is Fredric C. Tausend Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law. Together they have coauthored several books including The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall and Rise of an American Icon (Sourcebooks, 2002) and On Dissent: Its Meaning in America (Cambridge, 2013)