Gregory Corso, the Beat poet, who died a couple weeks ago generated a large amount of email from people who wrote about him. Here's one of the best things we got:

>From the Village Voice

Remembering a Poet
Gregory Corso, 1930-2001
by Patti Smith

Gregory Corso, the flower of the beat generation, is gone. He has been plucked to grace the Daddy garden and all in heaven are magnified and amused. I first encountered Gregory long ago in front of the Chelsea Hotel. He lifted his overcoat and dropped his trousers, spewing Latin expletives. Seeing my astonished face, he laughed and said, "I'm not mooning you sweetheart, I'm mooning the world." I remember thinking, how fortunate for the world to be privy to the exposed rump of a true poet.

And that he was. All who have stories, real or embellished, of Gregory's legendary mischief and chaotic indiscretions must also have stories of his beauty, his remorse, and his generosity. He took benevolent note of me in the early '70s, maybe because my living space was akin to his-piles of papers, books, old shoes, piss in cups-mortal disarray. We were disruptive partners in crime during particularly tedious poetry readings at St. Mark's.

Though we were aptly scolded, Gregory counseled me to stick to my irreverent guns and demand more from those who sat before us calling themselves poets.

There was no doubt Gregory was a poet. Poetry was his ideology, and the poets his saints. He was called upon and he knew it.

Perhaps his only dilemma was to sometimes ask, Why, why him? He was born in New York City on March 26, 1930. His young mother abandoned him.

The boy drifted from foster home to reformatory to prison. He had little formal education, but his self-education was limitless. He embraced the Greeks and the Romantics, and the Beats embraced him, pressing laurel leaves upon his dark unruly curls. Knighted by Kerouac as Raphael Urso, he was their pride and joy and also their most provocative conscience.

He has left us two legacies: a body of work that will endure for its beauty, discipline, and influential energy, and his human qualities. He was part Pete Rose, part Percy Bysshe Shelley. He could be explosively rebellious, belligerent, and testing, yet in turn, boyishly pure, humble, and compassionate. He was always willing to say he was sorry, share his knowledge, and was open to learn. I remember watching him sit at Allen Ginsberg's bedside as he lay dying. "Allen is teaching me how to die," he said.

In early summer his friends were summoned to say goodbye to him. We sat by his bedside on Horatio Street in silence. The night was filled with strange correspondences. A daughter he had never known. A patron from far away. A young poet at his feet. On a muted screen, Robert Frank's Pull My Daisy randomly aired on public television-unaware of its mystical timing. Images of the Daddies, young and crazy, black and white. Snapshots of Allen taped to the wall. The modest room lorded over by Gregory's chair in all its shabby glory. So many dreams punctuated by cigarette burns. He was dying. We all said goodbye.

But Gregory, perhaps sensing the devotion surrounding him, became a participant in a true Catholic miracle. He rose up. He went into remission just long enough for us to hear his voice, his laughter, and a few welcomed obscenities. We were able to write poems for him, sing to him, watch football, and hear him recite Blake. He was here long enough to travel to Minneapolis, to bond with his daughter, to be a king among children, to see another fall, another winter, and another century. Allen taught him how to die. Gregory reminded us how to live and cherish life before leaving us a second time.

At the end of his days, he still suffered a young poet's torment-the desire to achieve perfection. And in death, as in art, he shall. The fresh light pours. The boys from the road steer him on. But before he ascends into some holy card glow, Gregory, being himself, lifts his overcoat, drops his trousers, and as he exposes his poet's rump one last time, cries, "Hey man, kiss my daisy." Ahh Gregory, the years and petals fly.

He loved us. He loved us not. He loved us.

Donations can be sent to Giorno Poetry Systems/Gregory Corso Fund, 222 Bowery, New York, NY 10012.

this has been a nodeshell rescue brought you you by the letters B,E,A and T and the number 2. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
One of my favorite poets, and—until January 18th of this year—one of the few surviving members of the so-called Beat Generation. His style was unmistakable; unflinching and clever, with a quickness and sense of humor that put his friend and rival Alan Ginsberg to shame.

When I heard he had died, I could nearly feel a large chunk of literary history break loose and tumble away. Corso was a genius. Granted, he was a bitter, competitive bastard, but he was still a genius. He will be missed not for his shining personality, but for the large stamp on the voice and feel of American poetry he and his work have left.

Below is Gregory Corso's New York Times Obituary.


Gregory Corso: Clown prince of the Beat Generation who survived a tough New York childhood to become the friend and rival of Keroac and Ginsburg

Photo: Poet who left chaos in his wake: Gregory Corso in 1965

The Beat Generation has lost the last of its heroes. the death of the poet Gregory Corso effectively brings to a close the ear of drug-fueled literary protest in the US once dominated by Jack Keroac and latterly presided over by Allen Ginsberg.

Corso had in the later stage of his life begun to withdraw from the world he had embraced so fiercely for so long. When he appeared in public he preferred to engage in quiet, off-stage dialogue with his audience rather than deliver in his distinctive New York drawl the free-form verse for which he was famous. It was not that he rejected his former persona. He continued to lecture on Beat poetry and even engaged in a collaboration with the singer Marianne Faithful. But, indisputably, he could not live as he once had.

Perhaps he felt he had little to say in the new, technologically-driven America of the Clinton years. Shelly—one of his heroes—was barely thirty when he drowned; Keroac went at 45; Ginsberg, the movement’s patriarch, died in 1996, to a muted farewell that ran, in its entirety, “Toodle-oo.”

As the last of the big-name “Beats”, Corso became, inevitably, distanced from the world that had sustained him in a kind of ossified celebrity since the 1950s, preferring to let his old words speak fro him. “If we are writers, our words do not die,” he once said—whether in hope or certainty it is impossible to know.

His literary legacy us difficult to gauge. The vision of Corso and Ginsberg (if not the prose of Keroac) is very much imprisoned in its period. That, and Corso’s reluctance to take himself seriously (or at least to behave as if he did) must undoubtedly color the reception of his work.

Nevertheless, he showed at best a mental and verbal discipline in his poetic exuberance that the better-regarded Ginsberg could not always match. BOMB, for instance, Corso’s famous 1958 paean to atomic destruction, jokily printed in the shape of a mushroom cloud, is manic, mocking, frightened and resigned at once, oddly and dangerously nuanced at a time when nuances were usually howled down: “O Bomb/ They’d rather die by anything but you Death’s finger in free-lance/ Not up to man whether you boom or not Death has long since distributed its/ categorical blue I sing thee Bomb Death’s extravagance Death’s jubilee/ Gem of Death’s supremest blue.” When Corso read the poem in Oxford, an audience of undergraduates threw shoes.

Gregory Corso was born in New York. His parents, both Italian, were teenage lovers who separated within a year of their child’s birth. It was a painful childhood—in and out of foster homes—hard in every way imaginable. At the age of 17, after years of exposure to the grim institutional poverty of postwar New York, Corso was convicted of theft and sent to prison for three years.

On his release in 1950 he worked as a laborer before moving to the West Coast, where he secured work as a junior reporter for the Los Angeles Times. This was a stroke of luck, but Corso could not settle and was soon employed as a sailor, plying the routes to Africa and South America.

Throughout his adolescence, Corso proved a voracious reader. While working as a stacker in the library at Harvard, he discovered Dostoevsky, Stendhal, Shelly and Christopher Marlowe, and on his arrival in San Francisco in 1956 it was perhaps fitting that he should run into Ginsberg and extend his range once more, this time in the direction of experimental poetry and prose.

Ginsberg, in spite of his avowed anarchism, was middle-class, hard-working and a creature of habit. Thus he had to struggle to endure the chaos that Corso invariably left in his wake. The younger man was, according to Michael Skau, author of a 1999 study of Corso, A Clown in a Grave, “very disruptive, whether it was a social setting or a literary setting... very antagonistic even toward his closest friends. Gisberg tolerated behavior from Corso that made Ginsberg look like a saint.”

Others were already on the scene. Keroac, having published On the Road in 1957, was well advanced on his own iconic journey; William S. Burroughs, 16 years older, had produced Junkie and was well into Naked Lunch. Corso missed Ginsberg’s famous reading of his poem Howl! However, he missed very that followed and was quickly accepted as an alternative alternative voice, younger and less predictable, funnier and less hectoring than the rest.

He traded shamelessly on his hard upbringing and untutored career. “They, the unnamed ‘they’. They knocked me down but I got up,” he wrote. “I always got up.” He played the field with both friends and lovers. Married three times, produced five children and ended up with seven grandchildren and one great grandchild. In his wry, self-questioning poem Marrige, he confessed to his weakness:

O but what about love? I forget love
not that I am incapable of love
it’s just that I see love as odd as wearing shoes—
I never wanted to marry a girl who was like my mother
And Ingrid Bergman was always impossible

His output—always aiming at the rhythms of real speech—was prodigious. His more than a dozen collections included Gasoline, Elegiac Feelings American and, in 1997, Minefield: New and Selected Poems. There was also some fiction and two plays, as well as his joint manifesto with Ginsberg, The American Literary Revolution.

Gregory Corso, poet, was born in New York on March 26, 1930. He died in Minneapolis on January 18, 2001, aged 70.

"When Corso read the poem 'Bomb'in Oxford, an audience of undergraduates threw shoes."

Oh yeah? It's a nice tale, often repeated by people who weren't present. Alas. it is quite untrue. I was one of the audience and not a shoe flew

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