The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday September 25th

Exhibit To Open In Wilson

The exhibit features work by a UNC alumnus but will also look at other writers

But a new exhibit sponsored by Wilson Library's Rare Books Collection is about to prove otherwise.

Titled "Visions from the Underground: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, City Lights Books, and Alternative Publishing in America," this exhibit on beat poet and publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti will open today in Wilson Library.

Ferlinghetti, founder of City Lights Books in San Francisco, is not only one of the most influential figures of the beat movement, but he is also a UNC alumnus who received a distinguished alumnus award in 1996.

According to Libby Chenault of the Rare Books Collection, the exhibit will not only focus on Ferlinghetti himself but the literary world in which this 1941 UNC graduate played such an integral role.

"There will be works by Ferlinghetti, both poetry and editorial, on display, as well as writing he did while in school here at UNC and yearbook pictures," she said. "(The exhibit) will also focus on other writers of the beat generation, particularly as they relate to Ferlinghetti."

Specifically, Chenault said, this will include many works by Allen Ginsberg, whose poem "Howl" was first published by City Lights Books in a Pocket Poets Series. This is the same series that published the works of other writers like William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac.

With the publication of "Howl" in 1957, City Lights was put at the center of a censorship controversy, during which Ferlinghetti was arrested for publishing "obscene" material. After being defended successfully by the American Civil Liberties Union, Ferlinghetti emerged as a champion of free speech.

UNC graduate student Jill Katte, who is the curator for this exhibit, says some of her favorite items on display are visual images. "There are photographs taken by Ginsberg of himself and Ferlinghetti, as well as other notable figures of the beat generation," Katte said.

These photographs will be used to illustrate a talk that Ferlinghetti bibliographer Bill Morgan will deliver at 6 p.m. today as part of the opening events.

Katte, who became interested in beat generation material through her work as a graduate research assistant in the Rare Books Collection, said this event is a great opportunity to honor Ferlinghetti, who is now 82 and still living in California.

Chenault added that this event also will inform people of some of Wilson Library's overlooked resources.

"This exhibit will highlight an ever-growing part of the collection, one that people may not usually associate with the Rare Books Collection," she said.

But most importantly, this is a chance for the public to view and enjoy some 60 plus items of incredible literary significance.

Chenault said, "Whether they grew up with the beats as the formative writers of their youth or they've come to know them through reading, a lot of what is said by these writers really resonates with people today."

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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