Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy Birthday of Death (Gregory Corso)

[Gregory Corso, Tangier, July 1961. Photo: Allen Ginsberg. c Allen Ginsberg Estate]

Gregory Corso died ten years ago today, three months shy of his 71st birthday. We salute him today via this little survey.

Video and Film Footage of Gregory Nunzio Corso.

There is the ragamuffin in Pull My Daisy , and the angelic kid captured in 1965 in London’s cavernous Albert Hall, reading his long poem, “The Mutation of The Spirit” (see the collection
Elegaic Feelings American).

There is the wonderfully roué old Gregory as memorably evoked in his 1993 collaboration with musician Nicholas Tremulis, “For Homer”.

There is a middle-period Gregory, giving wild crazy workshops in the early days of NAROPA, from “Fried Shoes Cooked Diamonds”, (a suitably zany Gregory title) - note, in the first clip, here, the doting Fernanda Pivano - the second clip is a 1978 outdoor reading of his classic, “Bomb”, on the occasion of the protests at Rocky Flats, Colorado, the same protest that occasioned Allen’s own “Plutonian Ode”.

Fernanda Pivano is featured briefly, (speaking in Italian), eulogizing Gregory, in Luca Facchini’s 2001 “Fernanda Pivano: A Farewell to Beat” - Valerio Mastandrea follows, reading Gregory’s poem,”Matrimonio” ("Marriage"). An audio of Gregory himself reading the poem (in English) can be found here - and a spirited reading of it by rock star Ian Dury here. “Bomb” and “Marriage”, two of Gregory’s enduring classics.

Extraordinary footage of the great poet Amelia Rosselli (1930-1996) reading alongside Gregory, reading Italian translations of some of his shorter poems can be found here and here.

Gregory in Rome has been charmingly dogged by Dario Bellini in his Gregory Corso Walks And Talks in Roma in two parts - here and here.

The unfettered Gregory may be also viewed in Francois Bernardi’s Original Beats, (mentioned previously, in the context of Herbert Huncke).

Anecdotes of Gregory, there are many. Mary Beach and Andy Clausen tell stories. Mark Erikson cleverly illustrates some of Gregory’s bon mots in Conversation with Gregory Corso - Skulls For Vienna .

And finally there’s Gustave Reininger’s The Last Beat, a full-length documentary on Gregory (made in his lifetime and with the cooperation of the poet), here’s the trailer.


  1. Mention should also be made of Gregory's memorable appearance in Godfather Part III ("He's got the map of Sicily on his face")

  2. And don’t forget Die on Me, GC’s posthumously-released spoken word CD (produced by Hal Wilner) on Paris Records
    A great review of it can be found here:

  3. More of the great Amelia Rosselli may be found here:
    and here:
    Paul Vangelisti’ & Lucia Re’s translations of her Variazioni belliche (War Variations) was published in 2006 by Green Integer:
    A selection of poems translated into English by Giuseppi Leporace and Deborah Woodward, The Dragonfly, came out in 2009 from Chelsea Editions:
    Look out for a new selected translation, by Jennifer Scappettone - Locomotrix: Selected Poems of Amelia Rosselli in the coming year. Here’s an example from that book: