The Beat poet born and raised on Bleecker Street

Unlike Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and other Beat Generation writers centered in Greenwich Village in the 1950s, poet Gregory Corso was actually from the Village.

Born at St. Vincent’s Hospital in 1930 to poor immigrants living at 190 Bleecker Street (where one-bedroom apartments now fetch $2500 per month), Corso’s upbringing was rough:

He sums his bio up in a letter dated September 7, 1957 from The Accidental Autobiography: The Selected Letters of Gregory Corso:

“…mother year after me left not-too-bright-father and went back to Italy, thus I entered life of orphanage and four foster parents and at 11 father remarried and took me back….”

“…two years later I ran away and caught sent away to boys home for two years and let out and went back home and ran away again and sent to Bellevue for observation where I spent three frightening sad months with mad old men who peed in other sad old men’s mouths….”

“…from 13 to 17 I lived with Irish on 99th and Lexington, with Italians on 105th and 3rd, with two runaway Texans on 43rd etc. until 17th year when did steal and get three years in Clinton Prison where an old man handed me [The Brothers] Karamozov, Les Miserables, Red and the Black, and thus I learned, and was free to think and feel and write….”

In 1950, he met Ginsberg and Kerouac, who were impressed with Corso’s street smarts and talent. And the New York Beat scene took off.

[Photo above: Ginsberg and Corso read with publisher Barney Rosset in Washington Square Park]

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3 Responses to “The Beat poet born and raised on Bleecker Street”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    At the time, last 60s early 70s, I worked for Barney Rosset at his offices on 11th Street off Broadway and University Place, in Grove Press/Evergreen Review. Every morning he would stop of at Smith’s Bar on 13th Street and University and have a drink on his way to work. Drinking meant little since he had his own bar in his little building, The Black Cat Bar, big enough for perhaps 10 people. But he’s still alive and publishing, which is great to hear. He’s led a wonderful life and known some fantastic writers, Ginsberh and Corso are just a few

  2. Harry Says:

    I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Greg numerous times.

    Favorite Quote:
    “They, that unnamed “they”, they’ve knocked me down but I got up. I always get up-and I swear when I went down quite often I took the fall; nothing moves a mountain but itself. They, I’ve long ago named them me.”

    Favorite Poem:
    The Whole Mess … Almost

    I ran up six flights of stairs
    to my small furnished room
    opened the window
    and began throwing out
    those things most important in life

    First to go, Truth, squealing like a fink:
    “Don’t! I’ll tell awful things about you!”
    “Oh yeah? Well, I’ve nothing to hide … OUT!”
    Then went God, glowering & whimpering in amazement:
    “It’s not my fault! I’m not the cause of it all!” “OUT!”
    Then Love, cooing bribes: “You’ll never know impotency!
    All the girls on Vogue covers, all yours!”
    I pushed her fat ass out and screamed:
    “You always end up a bummer!”
    I picked up Faith Hope Charity
    all three clinging together:
    “Without us you’ll surely die!”
    “With you I’m going nuts! Goodbye!”

    Then Beauty … ah, Beauty—
    As I led her to the window
    I told her: “You I loved best in life
    … but you’re a killer; Beauty kills!”
    Not really meaning to drop her
    I immediately ran downstairs
    getting there just in time to catch her
    “You saved me!” she cried
    I put her down and told her: “Move on.”

    Went back up those six flights
    went to the money
    there was no money to throw out.
    The only thing left in the room was Death
    hiding beneath the kitchen sink:
    “I’m not real!” It cried
    “I’m just a rumor spread by life … ”
    Laughing I threw it out, kitchen sink and all
    and suddenly realized Humor
    was all that was left—
    All I could do with Humor was to say:
    “Out the window with the window!”

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    I like this a lot. “Marriage” is a good one too. I’ll link it but here’s the first part:

    Should I get married? Should I be good?
Astound the girl next door with my velvet suit and faustus hood?

    Don’t take her to movies but to cemeteries
tell all about werewolf bathtubs and forked clarinets
then desire her and kiss her and all the preliminaries

    and she going just so far and I understanding why
not getting angry saying You must feel! It’s beautiful to feel!

    Instead take her in my arms lean against an old crooked tombstone
and woo her the entire night the constellations in the sky-

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