Free speech and free spirits have flourished at City Lights since 1957, when founder and poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and manager Shigeyoshi Murao won a landmark ruling defending their right to publish Allen Ginsberg's magnificent epic poem 'Howl.' Celebrate your right to read freely in the sunny upstairs Poetry Room, with its piles of freshly published verse and designated Poet's Chair.
Idle browsing is highly encouraged too – Ferlinghetti's hand-lettered sign describes City Lights as 'A Kind of Library Where Books Are Sold.' On the main floor, City Lights publications include titles by Angela Davis, Charles Bukowski, Diane di Prima and Noam Chomsky, proving the point on another of Ferlinghetti's signs: 'Printer's Ink Is the Greater Explosive.' The nonfiction cellar is unconventionally organized by book buyer Paul Yamazaki according to counter-cultural themes like Stolen Continents, Muckraking and Commodity Aesthetics. This cellar was once the lair of the paper dragon used in Chinatown's lunar new year celebrations, and enigmatic slogans on the walls like 'I am the door' are left behind by a cult that worshipped here in the 1930s – and for readers, City Lights is a cause for celebration and a source of continuing revelation.