Gregory Corso

Born: March 26, 1930
Place of Birth: New York City


  Texts from Levi Asher - Literary Kicks
Excerpted by permission of copyright holder

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. Ginsberg was impressed by the poetry Corso had written in prison and alerted others to his talent. Corso's first poems were published in 1955.

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.


More famous then than he is now, he has a standing alongside Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs that is sort of comparable to Zeppo's standing alongside Groucho, Harpo and Chico. That is, he isn't one of the big three, but if you want a big four he's the fourth. (Or is Gary Snyder the fourth? Ah, forget this whole dumb paragraph.)

Corso's sense of humor is evident in his work, and this is a refreshing difference from the other Beats, most of whom were never known for acheiving a 'light' tone. An excellent example of this is Corso's excellent 'Marriage.'I like this poem a lot, maybe because I'm a married guy myself, or maybe just because I admire its simple human honesty. For all his odd characteristics, this poem seems to indicate that Corso was at heart a 'regular guy' (one who occasionally cries out for penguin dust, perhaps, but regular nonetheless).

Corso appears as Yuri Gregorovic, the guy who steals Jack Kerouac's girlfriend in Kerouac's somewhat self-pitying novel 'The Subterraneans.'

Bibliography of Corso's Works

Literary Kicks
by Levi Asher