In 1955, poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, cofounder of City Lights Bookstore, decided to launch a publishing imprint with his own first book of poems, Pictures of the Gone World. Priced at 75 cents a copy, that book set the foundation for a publishing legacy that includes Howl and Other Poems, by Allen Ginsberg, a book with more than a million copies in print and at the center of an obscenity trial, cementing City Lights as a defender of free speech and a publisher of innovative literature.

At BEA, the City Lights booth (638A)will be looking back on its legacy by featuring five publications associated with its milestone, as well as giving out anniversary bookmarks.

Three of the five titles being celebrated are connected to Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The first is a hardcover anniversary edition of Pictures of the Gone World: 60th Anniversary Edition, which launched City Lights’ Pocket Poets Series. The second, The City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology: 60th Anniversary Edition, edited by Ferlinghetti, is a special edition collecting favorites from his famed Pocket Poets Series, including Ginsberg, Frank O’Hara, and Jack Kerouac, plus excerpts from some of the more recent collections by Cristina Peri Rossi, Kamau Daaood, and David Meltzer. The third title, I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955–1997, is edited by Bill Morgan and received a starred PW review.

“You get a real sense of how crucial Ferlinghetti and Ginsberg were to each other in creating the success of City Lights Publishers, in nurturing the writers who became known as the beat generation, as well as the role they played in each other’s writing careers,” says Stacey Lewis, v-p of City Lights.

City Lights is also publishing a new, expanded edition of the 1960 title Hiparama of the Classics, by Lord Richard Buckley, a poet and comic known for his unique stage persona that influenced Ken Kesey, George Harrison, Tom Waits, Lenny Bruce, and Robin Williams. Endorsements from contemporary comics Marc Maron, Kamau Bell, and others will introduce Buckley to a new generation of comedy fans.

Lastly, City Lights will be publishing a 25th anniversary edition of Shock Treatment, by Karen Finley. “Next to Ginsberg’s Howl, Finley’s book was a landmark publication for City Lights and came out just at the time Finley became internationally known for being denied an NEA grant because of perceived obscenity in her work,” says Lewis.

BEA attendees are in luck, because Finley will be in the City Lights booth today, 2–3 p.m., offering psychic readings to all attendees; galleys of Finley’s anniversary edition will be available. “She’s very excited about giving psychic readings at BEA. We wanted to do something fun other than just another author signing galleys,” Lewis says.

While City Lights looks back on an illustrious 60 years, the house isn’t merely reveling in nostalgia and resting on its laurels. The publisher has made some exciting leaps forward. This year it published its first children’s book, Rad American Women A–Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History... and Our Future! by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl. The book is a feminist title for children focusing on 26 women who have shaped culture.

With 50,000 copies in print since March 15, Rad American Women has come in at #10 on the national ABA Indie Bestseller List in the early and middle-grade readers category and hit the #5 spot on the New York Times bestseller list on May 17, in the children’s middle-grade category. “It’s the most quickly successful book we’ve published in a long time,” says Lewis.