Gregory Corso (K – Libre) -1

Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, New York City, 1985. Photo: Hank O’Neal

This weekend we feature just one of the innumerable treasures in the Archives at Stanford University (there’ll be many more to come)

Today (in two parts, the second tomorrow) Allen Ginsberg’s tape from 1977 of a reading by Gregory Corso. (“K-Libre”? Kerouac Library? a benefit of some sort? We’re not exactly sure)

With significant detour and deviation (sic) and against a boisterous audience he (Gregory) organizes the reading along mathematical lines.

The poems he reads are “Verse”, “Alchemical Poem”, “As long as we live…”, “The Whole Mess…Almost”, “The Plight of Iccheus”, “Nature’s Gentleman”,, and  “Friend”

Gregory… ..yeah….Gregory Corso

Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg’s East 12th Street apartment, May 11, 1986. Photo: Hank O’Neal

GC: I’ll break it.. I’ll break it if I can from one to five… broad.. alright, so I’ll give you a one-to-five shot. The one is the toughest, and the fifth is second-toughest. The second, third, fourth – easy. And it’s called “Verse”. It’s called what you’re all doing up here tonight, and what they’re going to conclude doing – [child’s cry in the audience] – ( can make it in poetry readings, they can’t in movies, man – don’t bring them to the movies – it sucks! – you can’t stand the kid and you can’t stand the people with the kid..) – [audience responds] – excuse me? – a little dumb or big dumb? I’ll take you.. I’ll take out, like I said, to anybody.. whatever’s laid down. And if I don’t want it I won’t take it. Because I’m sitting here.

So I’ll give you the one..

Audience: (Give us two)

GC: Oh. it’s a tough fucker. Can I start at the two and the three and the four, and then get back to the one?. I think I.. I.. I don’t know, I don’t deserve a fucking thing, but I think I have my credentials, not through myself so much but, through others.

(Audience: (Where are they?))

GC: Where are they? They’re with me obviously. Where the fuck do you think they are? I tell you I have them. Oh, they’re getting redundant. You see, I can’t give you the goodies.

AG: [admonishing the audience] – If you don’t listen to him, you won’t hear anything!

GC: But you think I interrupt all the time therefore you’ve got to do the shot to me, but be careful. You see, the others were open for it. I was not, man. I was up there sniffing coke, minding my business. Someone says, “Hey, it’s your turn to perform” – “Eh? what?” – (they already got their money for the clinic, and if that’s all the fuckers that come to lay.. how much down?.. a dollar or something? – (and you’re ain’t got nothing! – Well, if you want it..

And I went on that airy-plane, and last night I was wise enough not to go because of thunder and what-not – not because of my demise (going-going-gone) but my kid (well, I thought, “Fuck it, care for him, Corso”. Are you going down there for kids? Well, you’ve got it? what is it? You got a doctor here already. He seems to be treated well. I think maybe exercise. For instance, I saw some big fucker out there and the doctor was showing me his lungs! Now why should that big fucker go to that doctor? Leave that doctor for a real emergency – that fucker should go somewhere else, (Denver, or some shit, I don’t know where), to get his lungs checked out. Spare the doctor. Use the fucker real right. Alright. And the bread that you get, let them have a ball with it. And if he needs utensils and numbers like that, get it?

Alright, now I’ll give you a couple of poems – out of my head and one from a book. Alright? Now, let’s see, the first shot..

(Audience: Out of your head?)

GC: Well, they’re coming out of my head…

Can I do the second and the third and the fourth, first? ((Before,) somebody fucked up here, to get a broad on me, or something..) Alright, alright, here’s the number two one. The number one should be read in a book not spoken aloud (because, of course if it’s read aloud, it’s plural). Now, dig it, if you’re reading it in a book, you’ll see   I can disappear/ before your eyes/ killing you” – bam-bam! you got it – see? But if I have to speak it to you, I have to say… “I can disappear before my eyes killing me”. You get it? So it fucks up my number there. I’m not an awful reader in public, am I? – I’m an interrupter a lot…(yeah I interrupt a lot – usually my old friend Ginzy (sic)) Alright, so you got the double-hit of the second liner.

(Audience interruption)

I give them a couplet, a top-shot couplet . Remember, I told you I’d give you a one-r (which is “Verse” – “Verse” is a single line. To get the hit in the ball-game and the one-liner. A two-liner, the couplet ? – It’s long. You know, if you’re Alexander Pope , it’s long. The three-liner, the Orientals laid down – the haiku – they laid that fucker down – Well, Elaine Trapsby?, what was her name?

AG: Adelaide Crapsey

GC: Adelaide Crapsey- what did she do? three shots?

AG: Cinquains

GC: Oh cinquains, cinquains, cinquains, five, five hits.

AG: Imagism

Five – I got the five – oh boy! and it ain’t with her. Right. now.. I’ll tell you the five is the second-toughest shot. Now, the third is easy. It’s alchemical –   “A blue bird/alights upon a yellow chair/Spring is here”

(AG: Very airy)

GC: Who paints here? any painters?

(AG) Dean. (sic)

(Audience) Dean right there, right there

GC: That’s Dean? – I thought he was a poet-writer?

AG: Prose writer

GC: Alright, so, again, I’m… no. I won’t read.. I won’t explain my explanations. But I did say it was alchemical but I think it was more of a painting, right? – blue and yellow maketh green, rather than saying green and Spring is here. So it’s an easy shot

(AG): Repeat it)

GC; A blue bird alights upon a yellow chair (blue and yellow maketh…) Spring is here (yay!)

Shit, man, I knew that needed explanation and it’s not heavy at all. No, one of the simple fuckers. Alright, now.

I don’t play with this bullshit, man. It’s the guy who runs this shot who plays that game. Alright, wait, I’m…

The one-liner might not spare me but the five-liner will. The four… – I didn’t even give you the four-liner! (alright, now lets see if you can check this fucker out, it’s also, it’s not alchemical, it’s…

Excuse me, I want to talk to a great poet [Gregory goes over to Allen] –

I know, I didn’t have to get him to give me the answer – “inverse rhyme” – alright, four-liner – “inverse”.  {“Inner/Outer Rhyme’]

“Last night was the nightest / The moon full-mooned a starless space/Sure as snow beneath snow is whitest/Shall the god surface the human face”

The God one.. I mean God-bullshit gets me a little confused still. I’d like to throw it out the fuckin’ window, out with all the rest of the bullshit, but, the rhyme part, the inverse rhyme? – I will explain my explanation on that, because “Last night nightest” is easy, “Moon full-mooned”, easy, “Snow beneath snow”, easy – but the last line… easy! – (Sure, easy – “surface”, the face, of course, human face, surface, and on and on)

Alright, there’s the four, now the fiver. Oh, that’s a tough fucker (although the one-r is the worst, I mean, that is hard, that’s hard, that’s going to have to come to me)

(Audience distraction)

GC: That’s not bad. I love outside. Let me see, let me see the fiver, I had the.. – oh yeah..

Gregory Corso’s “A Star”  via Don Yorty Explorations (apologies for the blurr)

A Star….(this is what I get from sleeping outside) – “A star/ is as far/ as the eye/ can see/ and/ as near/ as my eye/ is to me”  – that’s an outside shot, but that one-line is an inside fucker, it’s heavy, it’s heavy. wait, wait, wait, wait, wait..

(Audience distraction)

GC: .. (You’re) saying what? You’re going to put me in a dome? oh god, that’s why I haven’t.. – in a fuckin’ dome?

Don’t let him home, somebody said, I ain’t got one

Audience: Dome-dome da-da-dome!

GC: Better dome than a home – than a no-home? – ah…

The one-liner. The one-liner I have, I feel is arrogant. I feel, though, it laid something on me with the death shot. I thought really I saw that clear (and, yeah, I do see it clear. I mean it’s a one-liner)

But I lay it only on people that you know, that I  will know, who’ll die (you see, none of you, I don’t lay it on you at all)

(Audience: We’re not going to die!)

GC: No way – see, it was a con laid on you. That’s why I had to hit in one line. It was something laid on you and you probably saw it happen on screens or maybe even saw a dead body and you believed that had to happen, That’s why it happened to them – they believed it had to happen, they went. Now it sounds a little dopey, because you think, “Now, wait now, Gregory, you do get older, people get hit by cars, and all that. No, what I’m getting at is this – you don’t know it, you don’t know it. None of you in this motherfucking place here know death…

Now I’ll ring the bell (rings bell)

– See, see.. so I got the one-liner. Now dig this one-liner – “As long as we live, superstars will die” – Groucho Marx, yeah – they’ve been going like flies, man [editorial note: Groucho Marx died August 19, 1977] – Those fuckers have been knocked out.. very early

Alright, and then you’re building up monuments again, all that bullshit, your totems, all your sucking game again. Then you’ve got to feel sorry if you go, or if your son becomes a woman, or daughter becomes a superstar, and they go.

Bro’ Corso’s around and says, “Well, there’s another one”

You see, it’s like the second hit – I gave it all to you. I said, “As long as we live”, they will go. But, you know, really the fact is that as long as I live, they’ll go (And you’d rather have that, because some of you may end up superstars, you see, and you’d rather have it that way)…

Yeah, well, you fuckers’d already accepted it. You’d gone out. And what you want to do, you want to do good in life (but, really, it’s a bore, man, dig it out there – same old shot, dig the food you eat – same old shot, dig the cunt you’re with, or the cock you’re with – same old shot, but what you want to do now is be nice)

Audience Yeah, but what did your mother say?

GC: I have none.

(Audience: Right).

GC Never had one.

(Audience: Right, he’s an orphan then).

AG: You’ve come to the right valley –

(Audience: Orphan Valley – that’s ok..).

GC: I know something funny about orphans, I can’t recall it, what is it?, something about orphans. Oh yeah, yeah, two Indians were climbing a hill. One was a tall Indian, the other was a short Indian. The short Indian was the son of the tall Indian and the tall Indian was not the father of the short Indian

Well that’s what I got up here today, with a thunderstorm, and some squalls, man, and waiting for the fuckin’ wine, and couldn’t have my snort of coke, I mean, what hospitality!   You know, well you’d think, that if somebody comes to a benefit, who the fuck they are?

Right on, right on. Because I don’t feel this space is yours, these walls enclose this shot. I wear the Moon and Venus on my pinkie, man. Mine to take who else takes it?

So, let’s see if I can do the last poem, storing it all away – alright, let’s see…

to be continued…

One comment

  1. This tape is of a poetry reading done at Libre Commune, Farisita CO. I was also a reader at this event held at Dean Fleming’s dome.
    Good to know it’s been collected.
    Would very much like to know its provenance. Suspect that it belongs in the Libre Archives. Perhaps a copy could be provided to: Libre, Box 0, Farisita CO 81089.

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