Anne Waldman's Stellar Example

Gregory Corso invaded my shower one day in the little Townhouse apartment I return to in dreams as “Remember Some Apartments”. It was named “Emerson Apartments”. Ralph Waldo Emerson had always been an inspiration for my memory of this place although he would not have appreciated the commune spirit. Gregory was always barging in, rooting around looking for valium or anything palliative and high-making, gesticulating , checking out my books –did I have any art books? – and would I ever be as good as Jane Austen? So there was that, the sense of invasion.

I was soaping my hair with lavender shampoo. We decided we would probably never sleep together. That was a good idea because he was so complicated to think about sleeping with. I mean it wasn’t even an issue or much of a discussion. I was not going to get my transmissions from Beat poets, I proclaimed, by sleeping with them! I said would you be my pal? And will you behave? He hugged me as we were water rats together in the shower.

(This was 1975, Boulder, Colorado during a summer session of

The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University)

Anne Waldman

Monday, February 24, 2014

CORSO IN DIM BAR IN 1983 (?) in New Brunswick, NJ, by Ron Kostar

The night I saw Corso in a dim Bohemian bar in New Brunswick, NJ sometime in the 80's (1983?) I was with two buddies from graduate school. We had just come from a class with Nathaniel Tarn on modern poetry, and I had convinced my friends to come with me. They didn't know what to expect. I kind of did, and I was excited; but first we had to stand and listen to two or three young Beat wanna-be's deliver their loud insistent clanging rants, and then Corso stood up and walked over to the microphone. He was short and missing some teeth and his face looked like an old boxer's. I liked him immediately, and when he began reading it was obvious from the start that, unlike the previous readers, he was a poet. I don't remember what poem he read first , but it was a seamless combination of sound, image and insight and every once in a while there was a line that made me laugh out loud. The poet pugilist was funny, but he was also a little scary: his mannerisms were erratic, almost frenetic, and I think many of the 20 or so people in the bar stifled their laughs because nobody knew how he might react. I laughed half-expecting him to drop his book and take two steps into the audience and punch me in the mouth. But the poem "Marriage" was the first poem that made me laugh and cry and here I was standing ten feet away from Gregory Corso, the aging boxer who had had a face lift and seemed to be wearing a wig, or if it was his real hair it had grown long and had been dyed an off-reddish color that didn't look quite real. There was also an angularity to his face that, combined with the wig, made me think of an old transvestite, or at least a woman in a man's face. Maybe a satyr. The again satyr read on, one good poem after another, and then I noticed something strange : he wasn't finishing any of his poems! Instead, every time he got close to finishing a poem his voice would trail off and he would mumble something, pause and look down, and then introduce or just start reading the next poem. It was a strange tick and he seemed to know it, that not finishing his poems was bizarre, and he started to get increasingly more self-conscious about it; until at one point he finally said, "I can't finish this poem," or something to that effect, and then, "I can't read the last lines of any of these poems and I don't know why." When he said that, I was standing right in front of him, and it sounded as if he wasn't being rhetorical but he were asking, almost pleading, for an answer, so without thinking ("first thought, best thought") I said , "Because you don't want to die." And then Corso the poet looked at me and shrugged and kind of chortled or snickered, I couldn't tell which but I kind of ducked, and then he looked back down into his book and started reading another poem, which was as good as the previous ones. But he didn't read the last line of that poem, either.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Daniel Zimmerman's Remembrance of Corso at Buffalo

Al Cook, our visionary English Department Chair, invited Corso, the delinquent high school dropout
            and incandescent bard,  to teach a senior seminar on Shelley—probably in ’65 or ’66. We met in
            Foster Hall, one of the original buildings, I believe, from the original poor house before it became UB’s
            Main Street campus. At least it seemed of that vintage. We used Newman Ivey White’s biography and
            the Complete Poems. Gregory still looked like he did on The Happy Birthday of Death (he inscribed
            my copy, “Hello, Gregory Corso,” as if conferring his name on the reader) though a bit more grizzled,
            as became him.
            Foster Hall did not, so sometimes we’d adjourn to Bitterman’s, a bar directly across Main Street
that once served as a blacksmith’s shop and still had its original wide, black wainscoting on the walls.
In those days, two types frequented Bitterman’s: jocks and poets (later, the jocks won, and it became
a garish sports bar). In its glory days, though, we’d order a few pitchers of draft and marvel at Gregory’s
erudition. Yeats’ rough beast had, in a gentler incarnation, slouched toward Buffalo.
            Alas, as so often blights apocalypses, this too aborted, mid-slouch, via a double whammy. I don’t recall
which came first, but at one point Gregory, out of sorts, confronted Professor Ralph Maud (with whom
I had studied Dylan Thomas, among others, and who later became an important Charles Olson scholar),
calling him a “long-red-haired moon-faced faggot.” Ralph, moved to umbrage by the unexpected slur,
walloped Corso in the kisser, breaking his nose (the story goes).
            Alas, again, it goes further: in those days, employment at UB required one to sign “the Feinberg Oath,”
which stipulated that the signee supported the Constitution of the United States, as well as the Constitution
of the State of New York. Gregory, well acquainted with the former, said he could assent to support it, but
had never read the latter, and requested a copy. Oddly, it took some time before the University could provide
him with one and, when it did, it proved much longer and more convoluted than the US Constitution.
            Objecting that he had to teach a course and didn’t have time to peruse such a lengthy document, he declined
to sign the oath—whereupon the University dismissed him as a potential subversive. Everyone regarded the
gentleman who replaced him, a brilliant and thoroughly competent man, as a socialist (who, of course, signed
the oath). No matter: the commie poet had to go, another victim of stupidity. I used to memorize his poems
and recite them to whoever would listen.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Dear Kirby Olson, as per an email from Eliot Katz, July 30th. Wanda Coleman

Copyright © 2006 for Wanda Coleman: For the purposes of internet transmission, all rights to the material below are reserved during electronic transfer for the author, who is transmitting it to the agent, editor or publisher for which it was written and contracted. It may not be used, reproduced, recorded or otherwise stored in a retrieval system without written permission of the author or party to whom this transmission is directed.


Up from Los Angeles, on a late November afternoon in 1981, we cruised the coast in Bruno, our tore-down 1968 Buick Skylark. Exhausted, we spent the night in the forest home of a gracious friend. The next morning, my husband Austin Straus and I snaked into Santa Cruz and miraculously scored the last room available at the St. George Hotel. All the Beats were staying there, partying in "headquarters"—Ferlinghetti's room. It would last a mere 48 hours, but it was the beginning of terminal night for poetry as we admired it then. The last of the Beats, the soul-wrenchers, the delusional illusionists and the glory seekers had gathered. I couldn't think of a better birthday present than being featured among newcomers, like Kathy Acker, at the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival, the 13th and 14th. Jerry Kamstra and F.A. Nettelbeck had been central to the crew of Those Responsible. Roaming around the festival site, a school auditorium that seated six-hundred, I did what blissed-out smile-weary neophytes usually do: kissed foreheads, shook the hands of legend after legend (Ginsberg, Kaufman, Everson, I. Reed, et al.) and stammered that I was thrilled to meet them, and timidly passed on a concealed copy of my 1977 chapbook at least twice. As I was giving Jerome Rothenberg the stammering treatment, Gregory Corso was stepping past. Rothenberg reached out, grabbed him by the elbow and steered him into my uh-uh-uh. (If around at such moments, Austin could remember a book or poem title, like "Marriage", his favorite Corso poem. I would simply go blank). We stood there as I attempted to collect myself, thinking 'Mr. Corso sure looks pretty healthy, given the rumors.' I looked at his arms for tracks and saw none. He patiently gave me the once over while I tried to find my tongue. I didn't. He said politely "Nice meeting you," and sailed on, leaving me face-to-face with an amused Jack Micheline.

Wanda Coleman/Los Angeles

Known at "The L.A. Blueswoman," Coleman's Bathwater Wine was winner of the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, and her Mercurochrome was a bronze-metal finalist in the National Book Awards 2001; recent books include Ostinato Vamps (2003), Wanda Coleman--Greatest Hits 1966-2003 (2004), and The Riot Inside Me: More Trials & Tremors (2005).

(NB: This was initially sent to me in 2006.  I am so lazy. I have about fifty more of these to put up.  But recently I came across this author's name, and then remembered I have a piece from her. So, here it is, folks! - KO.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Corso's Dark Romanticism

In the Spring of 1973, I was the associate editor of the Gregory Corso issue of Michael Andre's literary magazine, Unmuzzled Ox. Part of my duties consisted of squiring Gregory around New York City. Our first outing was a reading by George Economou at Dr Generosity's Pub, where Gregory went off the deep end over something in a poem and started screaming at George.

Gregory, in whom I had no interest whatsoever as anything but a colorful literary figure, developed a big crush on me. At that point, he was heavily drug addicted, partially toothless and looked like a street person. He kept trying to get me to go out with him, which I refused in a nice way. He would call me up in various stages of intoxication and withdrawal, sometimes quite late. When he was mellow, he would wax romantic; when he was crazed, he would call me at midnight and say he was going to kidnap and rape me. He said something like that to my roommate, who almost called the police. 

Eventually, he lost interest, or went back home, I don't recall. I saw him at readings after that, and he was nice, acted as though his behavior had never happened.
Dr. Iris Brossard, Centracare Health System, St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

When I introduced my date, he said, "I'd like ta shove a rose in ya, without the thorns...  Hey, that's pretty poetic, eh?"  Then he laughed maniacally & gave her a bear hug in his overcoat.

Gary Shilling, From May 29, 1992, in front of CBGB, in the Bowery, New York City.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I am Huncke's literary executor. Roger is now dead but his wife
Irvyne is alive and I can ask for more specifics.

One thing I do remember when I was with my son in Roger's used book
store called the Rare Book Room -- Huncke was there, Roger, Gregory,
James Rasin, myself -- many people -- maybe Marty Matz, I'm not sure
if he was in town that day or not -- in any case my son was about 20
months old -- good looking face, very open with everyone -- good grass
and good whiskey -- anything anybody would have wanted was there
including great literature -- and when Corso met my boy for the first
time he picked up a magic marker and wrote YES across his forehead.

Later in the afternon turned to evening he did a portrait of my son on
the back of a letter off of Rodger's desk and I still have the

All the best,
Jerome Poynton

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Photograph of Corso's Grave by Dennis Formento

This is a recent photograph by Dennis Formento. In the lower right corner we can see oak leaves, I think. I can't identify what appears to be a fern of some kind at the top. There is a residue of a pink flower on the lower left of the stone itself.