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.

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