Lawrence Ferlinghetti

August 9 – September 15, 2019

When We Arrived in Normandy, June 1944

We have now closed the exhibit. We would like to thank everyone who helped to make this exhibit such a wonderful success! 

Harvey Milk Photo Center proudly presents Lawrence Ferlinghetti Photography Exhibit: When We Arrived in Normandy, June 1944. All 50+ Black & White photographs in this special exhibit are from Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and have never been exhibited.

Dave Christensen, Director of Harvey Milk Photo Center
Maria Gilardin, Radio Producer/Journalist

The Harvey Milk Photo Center is located at 50 Scott Street, SF, is now over 75 years in the community, and is part of SF Rec & Parks Department.

Opening Reception:
Aug 9th, 2019, 5:00pm-8:00pm
The Opening Reception is free and open to the public.

Exhibit Dates:
Aug 9, 2019- Sept 15, 2019

Harvey Milk Photo Center
50 Scott St. San Francisco

Media Coverage:

KPFA 94.1 – Flashpoints, Aug 8th, 2019
SF Chronicle – Datebook, July 25th, 2019, by Sam Whiting

Press Release

LST Utah Normandy, June 1944    © Lawrence Ferlinghetti

We were seeing Normandy with the eyes of an invader – which is ourselves. Seeing Nagasaki changed everything.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, July 15, 2019

In this abundance of memories, one period in his life, his service in the Navy in World War II, received less attention although the last year of the war profoundly affected his life.

As commanding officer the 25 year old Ferlinghetti was at the helm of a submarine chaser, SC 1308, in the D-Day landing on the coast of Normandy in 1944. Later, after the atomic bomb obliterated Nagasaki, he witnessed firsthand the horrific ruins of the city. This experience was the origin of his lifelong antiwar stance.

Gene Feinblatt   © Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The photos in this exhibition have never been shown. They were taken, developed and printed by Ferlinghetti with a Navy issue camera in a small lab on board of the SC 1308 that he commanded.

Liberty Ship Hit Mine, Utah Beach, June 1944   © Lawrence Ferlinghetti

One set begins with the converging of troops in England, images of the young crew that the young Ferlinghetti was responsible for, D-Day dawn on June 6, 1944, and some of the ship traffic off the coast that he was assigned to protect.

In a storm on June 19, Ferlinghetti saved the sub chaser from running aground and took the ship back to England for repairs. After returning to Normandy, Cherbourg had been liberated and Ferlinghetti and the crew were allowed ashore.

The second set of photos, all taken in September 1944, shows the city, opera house turned headquarters, the bombed out harbor and submarine pens where the German U-boats had been hiding.

Opera House Cherbourg, Sept 1944   © Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Special Thanks:

The articles included in this exhibit, were published by the Whole Earth Catalog & City Lights. Within  the CoEvolution Quarterly, No. 19, Fall 1978, published in: The Journal For The Protection of All Beings

Special thanks to the following writers and photographers’ contribution, displayed in this exhibit.

Peter Blue Cloud, “Rattle”
Peter Coyote, “The Blind Side of the Future”
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “White on White”
Allen Ginsberg, “Plutonian Ode”
Susan Griffin, “The Roaring Inside Her”
Jack Kerouac, “Berkeley Song in F Major”
Michael McClure & Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Editors Statements
Paul McHugh, Staff Writer, SF Chronicle
Ishmael Reed
Bertrand Russell, Journal For The Protection of All Beings, 1961
Col. Sutton Smith
Anne Waldman, “Plutonium Chant”

We also wish to offer a very special Thank You to the Harvey Milk Photo Center staff, for the incredible work and presentation with Lawrence’s photos. The quality of the prints, matting, and respect for the integrity of the originals. (by not retouching, and retaining the beautiful effects of the passage of time on these contact prints, discovered in two small boxed hidden in Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s roll-top desk…)

A Very Special Thank You for the Donations & Support with this event:

Chambers & Chambers Wine Merchants
Frey Vineyards
Naughty Boy Vineyards


As a bookseller who pioneered paperback books and as a popular poet with a worldwide reputation, Lawrence Ferlinghetti has been a transformative presence in American culture since the 1950s. Committed to progressive political and social issues, his literary and graphic art counter an elitist conception of art and the artist’s role in the world.

When Lawrence Ferlinghetti turned 100 in March, 2019, the world paid attention. His novel, “Little Boy,” part autobiography, part summing up, part torrent of language and feeling, had just been published. “Coney Island of the Mind,” the 1958 collection of poetry, translated into 12 languages, is now in over one million hands. His paintings have been shown in at the Museo di Roma, Italy, and at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and in San Francisco.

As a publisher Ferlinghetti helped start the careers of many alternative local and international poets. In 1956, Ferlinghetti published Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl,” which resulted in his being arrested by the San Francisco Police. He helped spark the San Francisco literary renaissance of the 1950s and the “Beat” movement that followed, although he does not consider himself a “Beat” poet.

Learn More About Lawrence Ferlinghetti:

Photo by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Dawn, D-Day, June 6, 1944