Gregory Corso Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Although Gregory Corso published mainly poetry, he also wrote a short play, In This Hung-up Age, produced at Harvard University in 1955; a novel, The American Express (1961); and two film scripts: Happy Death, with Jay Socin, produced in New York in 1965, and That Little Black Door on the Left, included in a group of screenplays entitled Pardon Me, Sir, But Is My Eye Hurting Your Elbow? (1968). He also wrote, with Anselm Hollo and Tom Raworth, a series of parodies, The Minicab War, published in London by the Matrix Press in 1961.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Perhaps Gregory Corso’s greatest contribution to the Beat movement specifically and American poetry generally lies in his role as a literary paradigm for the “New Bohemianism” that appeared in the United States after World War II and through the 1950’s. Although Corso never went beyond elementary school, he gained a reputation as one of the most talented of the Beat poets, a “poet’s poet,” a sort of enfant terrible of the Beats. He received teaching appointments on the basis of his reputation as a major figure in the Beat movement. He was awarded the Longview Foundation Award in 1959 for his poem “Marriage,” the Poetry Foundation Award, and the Jean Stein Award in Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1986.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Cook, Bruce. “An Urchin Shelley.” In The Beat Generation. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971. Cook discusses the lives and works of key figures of the Beat generation. Corso, in a 1974 interview, charged Cook with lying about him in an interview that he conducted.

Corso, Gregory. An Accidental Autobiography: The Selected Letters of Gregory Corso. Edited by Bill Morgan. New York: New Directions, 2003. A collection that concentrates on Corso’s critical years of 1962 to 1967.

Gifford, Barry, and Lawrence Lee. Jack’s Book: An Oral Biography of Jack Kerouac. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978. An extensive biography of Jack Kerouac and his relationships with others of the Beat generation, including Corso. Under the influence of Kerouac, Corso put words together in an extremely abstract, apparently accidental manner. According to Corso, Kerouac was a “strong, beautiful man.”

Hamilton, Ian. Against Oblivion: Some Lives of the Twentieth-Century Poets. London: Viking, 2002. Contains a chapter on Corso, examining his life and works.

Knight, Arthur, and Kit Knight, eds. The Beat Vision: A Primary Sourcebook. New York: Paragon House, 1987. This fascinating collection includes an interview with Corso as well as a letter from Corso to Gary Snyder. The book...

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