Posts Tagged ‘Greenwich Village in the 1950s’

The Beat poet born and raised on Bleecker Street

November 3, 2010

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]