A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Beat generation poet Gregory Corso reads his classic poem “Marriage” from his book, The Happy Birthday of Death, first published in 1960.
“In terms of language Corso always seems to me the most interesting of the Beats … extracting all the power from standard syntax and rhetoric, maintaining the Beat anti-academicism .… Put this together with the experimentalism and relevance of the Beat outlook, and you have poetry that not only shares our experience but creates it.” Hayden Carruth
Gregory Corso (1930–2001) was abandoned by his mother a month after his birth at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York. Growing up in foster care and on the streets of Little Italy, Corso was a juvenile delinquent who spent time in Clinton Correctional Facility, in the cell recently vacated by gangster “Lucky” Luciano. An aspiring poet, Corso was taken under the wing of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, and became the youngest member of the Beat Generation’s inner circle, with whom he lived and worked in the Beat Hotel, a lodging house in Paris, during the late fifties. There he created one of his signature works, “Bomb”, a poem composed of typewritten strips of paper arranged in the shape of a mushroom cloud. Late in life, Corso became reunited with his mother and maintained a close relationship with her until his death.