San Francisco: Adrian Wilson, 1955. First Edition. Attractive advertising broadside for the first Poets' Follies in San Francisco, the brain-child of poets Weldon Kees and Michael Grieg, who conceived of the event in 1954 after attending a "wofefully stilted" reading by W.H. Auden at San Francisco State College's new Poetry Center. "Why not enliven the readings by dramatizing them?" he asked. "Why not make an evening of poetry lively?" They decided on a name for the idea, Poets' Follies, a stage show that was part poetry, part theater, ballet, minstrel show, and chautauqua...Three weeks later, most of the cast had been assembled: Kees, Grieg, Vincent McHugh - and Lawrence Ferling, whose debut in the Follies would convince him to adopt a "real" poet's name, Ferlinghetti" (Reidel, James. Vanished Act: The Life and Art of Weldon Kees (2003), p.327). The event, held at the Theatre Arts Colony building, opened to a sold-out crowd of San Francisco's close-knit bohemia. It was a lively night - poems and songs performed by Kees; Ferlinghetti read from his translations of Jacques Prévert; part of a play by McHugh; burlesque dancer Lily Ayers, "a platinum blonde, who could pass for Marilyn Monroe," performed and read poems by Sara Teasdale and T.S. Eliot; a dance number to the poems of Ezra Pound, e.e. cummings, and William Carlos Williams by Dick Martin and Jayne Nesmith; and the debut of Grieg's play The Three Bottles; or, Poison in the Poetry. The first scene, ""Quaff, Quaff," would feature an English poet who tries to poison his wife to get at her money for his "poetic growth" and an American butler who talks like Marlon Brando. To play the part of the wife, Lania, he chose an aspiring comedian, a housewife from Sausalito named Phyllis Diller looking for her first break" (p.328). While the Follies ran through 1958, the 1955 event was the only one Kees would be involved with; on July 19, 1955, his deserted vehicle was found on the Marin County side of the Golden Gate Bridge - an apparent suicide, though his body was not found. A scarce ephemeral survival, marking Ferlinghetti's first public performance, pre-dating publication of his first book (Pictures of the Gone World) by nearly 6 months. OCLC notes 2 holdings (UC Berkeley, UNC Chapel Hill). Item #3917
Illustrated broadside, offset printed in black on beige hand-made paper, measuring 6.5" x 20" (16.5cm x 50.5cm). A few old folds from mailing smoothed-out, closed tear at upper margin, with original recipient's address (photographer Chester Kessler) and two tiny remnants of hinging tape to upper corners on verso; Very Good+.