A Question of Taste: Why I Like Gregory Corso

I was asked awhile ago why I like Gregory Corso. This is a hard question for me because I’m not really good about explaining why I like certain things. Poetry is one of them. I’m sorry to say that I’m not as articulate as my profession would entail. I’m also not as knowledgable in poetic terms as I should be, for instance I really need to work on my metre. And don’t get me started on my lack of a second language, I really need to get on that.

Now back to Gregory Corso, I first got into him after hearing his reading of “Marriage,” on Indiefeed Performance Poetry. I recommend you all go see his poem, because it is a really good poem and shows how fun Corso can be. His use of language also impressed me, with his frankly absurd conjunctions, his “penguin dust” and “Flash Gordon Soap.” This even moves him towards the images that appear in the book, which generally come off as a madman, but he is articulate enough to know that he has control over his madness, which is more of a mental heat then a neurological disease. He takes a one word concept, and then runs with it to the point where he is jumping from vast images, from the traditional family picture, to the image of a desperate huge family reminiscent of the immigrant Italian milieu he grew up in, to the absurd rejection of marriage in the honey moon section “a scourge of bigamy/a saint of divorce -.” The mood swings in the poem also show his indecision, which was not even seen in much of the poetry I was reading at the time. His use of language and the little bits of poetic craft I can pick out (it was only until recently I realized that this poem rhymed) mark it as more than simple masturbation of the poet’s marital indecision.

As good as this poem is, it’s not enough to put him on my favorite poets, and for the most part I think that this has to do with Corso’s connections to the Beat Generation. Gregory Corso was on the ground floor for the creation, hanging out with Allen Ginsberg and working on the cut-up method with William S. Burroughs (albeit only for a time). The Beat Generation, along with the aforementioned Indiefeed are the two forces that made me decided to become a poet, a process that later solidified through my early attempts at various open mics and reading “The Savage Detectives,” by Roberto Bolano. That said, Gregory Corso remains one of the first poets I really got into, probably even before I could understand Ginsberg. He was a basis for what a poet could be and do, and for that I feel he is among my favorite poets.


Fifty Shades Better, but is it necessarily right?

I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey, but am familiar with the basic idea. Most of my knowledge of the whole Fifty Shades of Grey comes from the Histroy of BDSM blog (NSFW), who’s author has taken it upon himself to read and summarize Fifty Shades of Grey, while examining it from an insider’s view of BDSM, as well as an academic. If you’re like me and get off (no pun intended) on academic explortions on expression and communication of human desire, you’ll probably like it. It is also the reason why this is not a blog post where I simply complain about Fifty Shades of Grey. This is a blog post about how my local bookstore is choosing to market it.

While at my local bookstore, I noticed a set up for various books entitled “Fifty Shades Better.” While this is not necessarily hard, they decided to stay on books that are about sex. You think this would be easy, but for the most part I have some problems with the selections. Not major problems, but problems I feel should be addressed. So here are the books that my local bookstore says you should read aftter realizing that “Fifty Shades of Grey,” is shit.

  • The Beauty Trilogy, by Anne Rice. This one makes sense, considering that Fifty Shade of Grey is nominally a S&M novel, though according to the History of BDSM blog it’s not very good about it. From what I know about the Beauty Trilogy, it is much more hardcore, but not as hardcore as, say Story of O, or anything by the Marquis de Sade. It is also another popular kinky erotica, so one could go along with that. As such, this I have no problem with.
  • Erotic Versions of Pride and Prejudice, I saw two of them. This also makes sense, though I don’t know enough about Jane Austen to know if this is necessarily a good idea. The only Jane Austen I’ve read was an early novella called “Lady Susan,” which she never published and I had a hard time getting into because I’m not used to the prose of the 1800s. However, considering that Fifty Shades of Grey was originally Twilight fanfic with sex in it, it seems only appropriate that this Fifty Shades Better should have something like that from a better source.
  • Instructional Manuals, I saw a copy of the Kama Sutra and a book on Aphrodisacs. This makes sense, I guess, if you want instructions for having good sex. It seems appropriate for the thing.
  • Steamlust, Basically Steampunk erotica. Not much to say except that my local bookstore likes the steampunk.
  • The Scarlett Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. And here we reach my main problem. The Scarlett Letter? Seriously? Yes, it’s a book about sex, but it is a book about sex in the context of a repressive and hypocritical Puritan society. It dosen’t even end with an affirmation of human sexuality over the stifling social construct of the Puritans. If you’re looking for erotica, the Scarlett Letter is probably the least likely book you should pick up. They also had a copy of Madame Bovary, which may be a bit more appropriate because it could warn stupid people into trying to base their lives around silly romance novels. Honestly that may be what we need next, some kind of take on this Twilight and Fifty Shade of Grey thing that removes all the romantic notions and leaves the poor idiot woman with the realization that these are abusive relationships. Territory that has already been covered, but it should be something I shoudl think of considering all the Twilight and Shades of Grey stuff.
  • Whipping Girl, A Transexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Feminitity, by Julia Serano. This takes the cake, though ironically it is the book I would most want to read. A Transexual re-reading of Feminism? Shit, sign me up for that. Honestly, I think the only reason this got in the display was because of the title. Taken on it’s own, you might have a rather blaze story of a woman getting her whip on, but instead you have an examination on the limits of cisgendered feminism and how it negativly affects the plight of transwomen, making them a second-class citizen among second-class citizens. This is more interesting then Fifty Shades of Grey, I don’t know if it should be marketed as such. If you’re looking for something better then Fifty Shades of Grey, you would be looking for porn, or erotica, or erotic romance or whatever you want to call the damn book. While “Whipping Girl” looks interesting, I doubt it would illicite the same emotional responce as erotica would, and as such I don’t know if it should be in the same category, as the display seems to indicate.

So in conclusion, because I need to tie this up, whoever desighned the Fifty Shades Better display at my local bookstore should probably rethink it. A few of the books work, but someone needs to get ride of “The Scarlett Letter.” It’s not really the best book you want to follow up on. It’s still a good book, and well worth reading. It’s also short, so it has that going for it, but I don’t believe it has the same category as Fifty Shades of Grey. I don’t really know if Fifty Shades of Grey counts as porn, because of the History of BDSM guy has anything to say about it, it is not as kinky as it’s reputation says, but it still seems to fall under the erotic romance genre, and “The Scarlett Letter,” isn’t that.

In Which I Take My Writing and Do Science To It

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Never read him in my life.

Why President Walt Disney means Seperatist Pierre Elliot Trudeau, or something like that anyways

I have recently been deeply drawn into an alternate history called A World of Laughter, A World of Tears. It starts off with a joke concept, Walt Disney becomes President of the United States in the 1950s, and then goes about destroying all moments of happy in a slowly turning curve of race war, human rights violations, Senator George Lincoln Rockwell, and Mouse-eared Hitler Youth. I like this timeline, not just because it is one of the most depressing things I have ever read (a man gets torn apart in front of a thirteen year old Bill Clinton), but also for the bright points. There seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, and some of the bits on culture are pretty good, for instance the exchange between Ed Wood and Orson Welles (“What are we going to do tonight Orson?” “Same thing we do every night Eddie, try to take over the movies.”) Yes, I know that’s cheesy, but when you have actual race war looking like a likely event you need any bit of humour.

So, after reading this really enthralling example of alternate history I started wondering why all there aren’t any Canadian alternate timelines. I looked into it, and all I could find was an anthology of short stories called Arrowdreams, and an article about how in alternate timelines Canada is generally invaded by the Yanks or ignored because everyone they think we’re Yanks. This gets me right in the angry-at-Americans bits, so I decided I should add coming up with alternate histories for Canada should become a project.

I have no real idea what this will consist off, but my current idea is to do something with Pierre Elliot Trudeau. He is by far cooler then most politicians, if only because he was married to a fashion model and generally acted anyway he wanted, including sliding down the banister at Buckingham Palace. That’s something Doctor Who would do. So basically, I thought if I’m going to start a literary movement of alternate Canadian histories, I should probably start with odvious stuff. To me that means making Alt Trudeau a Seperatist. This will be interesting, as Trudeau was anti-Seperatist in real-life, and I want to find a way to keep Trudeau’s inherent Trudeau-ness no matter what I did to his political beliefs. I also want to do this as a wide-ranging timeline, that will feature many figures from Canada at the time, as well as non-Canadians from the time period. Trudeau already has some historical connections with Mick Jagger, so the Rolling Stones might show up. We’ll see how it goes anyways. I have a biography of Trudeau out, and at the very least I can learn more about a figure who has interested me for awhile now.