Gregory Corso Poems

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Gregory Corso
Gregory Nunzio Corso (March 26, 1930 – January 17, 2001) was an American poet, youngest of the inner circle of Beat Generation writers (with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs). Born Nunzio Corso at St. Vincent's hospital, (later called the Poets' hospital after Dylan Thomas died there), Corso later selected the name "Gregory" as confirmation name [citation needed]. Within the Italian community he was "Nunzio", while he dealt with others as "Gregory". He often would use "Nunzio" as a short for "Annuziato", the announcing angel Gabriel, hence a poet. Corso’s mother, Michelina Corso (née Colonna) was born in Miglianico, old Puglia, Italy, and emigrated to the United States at the age of nine, with her mother and four other sisters. At 16, she married Sam Corso, a first generation Italian American, and gave birth to Nunzio Corso the same year. They lived at the corner of Bleecker and MacDougal, the heart of Greenwich Village and upper Little Italy. In 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, Michellina Corso abandoned the one year old Gregory, leaving him with New York Catholic Charities and disappeared. Corso’s father, Sam "Forunato" Corso, consistently told his son Gregory that his mother Michelina has returned to Italy and deserted the family. He was also told that she was a prostitute and was "disgraziata" (disgraced) and forced into Italian exile. Corso spent the next 11 years in at least five different foster homes. His father, who had remarried, rarely visited him.Corso later stated that he respected the Catholic Church’s effort to pay foster homes to support depression stricken families, with hope of reuniting them. However Corso’s own personal experience was one of isolation and disassociation. He went to Catholic parochial schools, was an altar boy, and a gifted student. However, in order to avoid the WWII military draft, his father brought Gregory home in 1941. His father was drafted[citation needed], and Corso was alone now, without even the support of the Church. He made desperate but naive efforts to locate his missing mother, but to no avail. Gregory (lower-left) on his travels in Mexico with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Peter OrlovskyCorso became a child of the streets of Little Italy. For warmth, he slept in subways in the winter, and then slept on rooftops during the summer. He continued to attend Catholic school, not telling authorities he was living in the street. With "permission", he stole breakfast bread from Vesuvio Bakery, in Little Italy. Street food stall merchants would give him food in exchange for errands. At 13, Corso stole a toaster and sold it at a junk shop. He used the proceeds to buy a tie, and dressed up to see the film The Song of Bernadette, about the mystical appearance of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes. Corso claimed he was seeking a miracle, namely, to find his mother. Instead, on returning from the movie, police were searching for him and he was arrested for petty larceny and incarcerated in the Tombs, New York’s infamous jail. Corso, just 13, was celled next to an adult criminally insane murderer who had stabbed his wife repeatedly with a screwdriver. The exposure left Corso traumatized. Neither Corso’s stepmother nor his paternal grandmother would post his $50 bail. With his own mother missing and unable to make his bail, he remained in the Tombs. In 1944 during a New York blizzard, Corso broke into his tutor’s office for warmth, and fell asleep on a desk. He slept through the blizzard and was arrested for breaking and entering and booked into the Tombs a second time, with adults. Terrified of other inmates, he was sent to the psychiatric ward of Bellevue Hospital Center and later released. Corso was again arrested in 1946 at 17, for stealing a used suit worth less than $50. He was tried, without legal representation, as a "Youthful Multiple Offender", which could receive penalties commensurate with adult offenders, and sentenced to 3 years in Clinton, New York State’s maximum-security prison. Clinton, located in deep forest near the Canadian Border, was reserved for New York’s most hardened criminals and was the main location of New York’s executions by electric chair.

Should I get married? Should I be good?
Astound the girl next door with my velvet suit and faus... [read poem]
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