'Abandon all despair, all ye who enter,' orders the sign by the door to City Lights bookstore by founder and San Francisco poet laureate Lawrence Ferlinghetti. This commandment is easy to follow upstairs in the sunny Poetry Room , with its piles of freshly published verse, a designated Poet's Chair and literary views of laundry strung across Jack Kerouac Alley.
Poetic justice has been served here since 1957, when City Lights won a landmark free speech ruling over publishing Allen Ginsberg's incendiary epic poem 'Howl', and went on to publish Charles Bukowski, Angela Davis and Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos, among others. City Lights publications are showcased on the mezzanine, while the nonfiction cellar is organized by provocative themes like Stolen Continents, Muckraking and Commodity Aesthetics. When you abandon despair, you make more room for books.