Sunday, June 8, 2008


While watching my new DVD "What Happened to Kerouac?," I inadvertently discovered an awesome beat poet - Gregory Corso.

Check out this heartfelt short poem from his collection "Gasoline"

"Birthplace Revisited"
I stand in the dark light in the dark street
and look up at my window, I was born there.
The lights are on; other people are moving about.
I am with raincoat; cigarette in mouth,
hat over eye, hand on gat.
I cross the street and enter the building.
The garbage cans haven't stopped smelling.
I walk up the first flight; Dirty Ears
aims a knife at me...
I pump him full of lost watches.

Here's a brief bio:

Gregory Corso, the only major Beat writer to have the forethought to actually be born on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, was sent to prison on a robbery charge at the age of 16. He probably would not have made poetry his life's work if he had not met Allen Ginsberg in a Greenwich Village Bar when he was 20.

Corso met Ginsberg in the Pony Stable Bar, one of New York's first openly lesbian bars. Corso, only 20 and recently released from prison, was supported by the women of the Pony Stable as an "artist-in-residence". Corso was writing poetry there the night Ginsberg arrived. Ginsberg, cruising bars, was immediately attracted sexually to Corso. Ginsberg later said, "The Pony Stable was I think a dyke bar... I just wandered in and I remember he was sitted at a table, and he was a very nice looking kid. Alone... So I thought, was he gay or what was it? Maybe not." Ginsberg was even more struck by reading Corso's poems, immediately realizing Corso’s talent. "One he showed me...blew my mind instantly...and it struck me instantly that he was... spiritually gifted." Eventually Ginsberg introduced Corso to the rest of his inner circle.

In their first meeting at the Pony Stable, Corso showed Ginsberg a poem about a woman who lived across the street from him, and sunbathed naked in the window. The woman turned out to have been Ginsberg's girlfriend during one of his forays into heterosexuality. Ginsberg introduced the young and virginal Corso to the sunbathing woman, and in a panic, Corso ran from her apartment. Ginsberg and Corso remained life-long friends and collaborators.

In later years Ginsberg’s initial assessment of Corso held. During an 1996 interview for the documentary film Corso – the Last Beat, Ginsberg claimed, "I think Gregory is the poet's poet. Certainly the one poet I learned from most now. Gregory, I think, in some respects is a poet superior to myself."

He went on to become one of the most well-known and widely-read Beat poets. He has an anarchic style similar to Ginsberg's, though his favorite poet is Shelley, a Romantic poet who was much too flowery for most Beats. He does not write with Ginsberg's massive intelligence or protean poetic power, but then who does? He once wrote a love-poem to atomic weapons, 'BOMB', in the shape of a mushroom cloud.

1 comment:

Say something... Anything...