Gregory Corso, 1930-2001|
by Robert Creeley
Gregory Corso died last night (January 17), happily in his sleep in Minnesota. He had been ill for much of the past year but had recovered from time to time, saying that he'd got to the classic river but lacked the coin for Charon to carry him over. So he just dipped his toes in the water.
In this time his daughter Sherry, a nurse, had been a godsend to him, securing him, steadying the ambiance, just minding the store with great love and clarity. He thought she should get Nurse of the Year recognition at the very least.
There's no simple generalization to make of Gregory's life or poetry. There are all too many ways to displace the extraordinary presence and authority he was fact of. Last time we talked, he made the useful point that only a poet could say he or she was a poet -- only they knew. Whereas a philosopher, for instance, needed some other to say that that was what he or she was -- un(e) philosophe! -- poets themselves had to recognize and initiate their own condition.
There are several quick websites that help recall him now. One gives a
brief biography and discussion of a few of his poems:
Another, more usefully affectionate, is taken from Ed Sanders' The
Woodstock Journal. It was Lawrence Ferlinghetti who had suggested last
summer that a spate of respects might help cheer Gregory in his illness --
and that they were certainly well merited:
A third, which includes some previously noted, is The Museum of American
Poetics. There's a 'streamable' video available there of Gregory reading
at Naropa , if you can get the sound clearly:
Lots of us propose to be poets but who finally stakes all, or just takes
all, as being that way? In my life time only Robert Duncan could be his
equal in this way. It was honor indeed to have had his company.
See also: "Gregory Corso, a Candid-Voiced Beat Poet, Dies at 70" (New York Times) http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/19/national/19CORS.html
The Whole Mess ... Almost
Just an additional note with respect to Gregory Corso's sad death:
"A wake here in NYC Tuesday aft & eve (January 23rd) on Bleeker Street, directly across from the house where he was born. Italian gov't gave permission for his ashes to be interred in the English cemetery in Rome with Shelley."