Anniversaries – It’s the anniversary of Gregory Corso’s birthday next Friday (he would’ve been an unimaginable ninety-one, incidentally) but we thought to get a head-start here.
Kurt Hemmer, alongside the Beat Museum, have generously provided a restored document – a recording of one of Gregory’s very last college readings, one that took place at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, on March 28, 1996. The recording is available – here
From the Beat Museum’s brief account:
“Corso begins with a brief lecture on Homer, before getting into the poetry. At about 9:31, he mentions he never knew what happened to his mother (Michelina Colonna). “I’d asked my old man, and he said ‘I don’t know. She ran away. I put notices in the bottom of the New York Times and things like that’ … I never found out what happened to her.” Most of his life, he was led to believe she’d abandoned him and returned to Italy. “Anything, of course, that goes into the water, comes back to the shore,” Corso muses, “So I had ideas of maybe seeing her one day.” The next year, after Ginsberg died in 1997, filmmaker Gustave Reininger convinced Corso to accompany him to Europe to retrace the Beats’ footsteps. After expressing an interest in finding where his mother might be buried, Reininger discovered that she was in fact alive in Trenton, New Jersey, and the two were reunited in Reininger’s (aborted) film Corso: The Last Beat. Throughout this reading, Gregory frequently digresses [sic] to share other details from his life, and the background behind the creation of poems like “Greenwich Village Suicide,” “Italian Extravaganza,” “Sea Shanty,” “Notes After Blacking Out,” “Poets Hitchhiking on the Highway,” and others. Corso’s commentary provides an added richness and context to the work”.
A recent Gregory publication – from Rick Schober’s Tough Poets Press – Collected Plays
More Gregory next week.
Speaking of women and the Beats, here’s an unusual document – Joan Vollmer (Joan Burroughs) from her St Agnes School (up-state New York) yearbook. St Agnes, an Episcopalian school combined with the Roman Catholic Kenwood Academy in 1975 to form the Doane Stuart School – For more on the Doane Stuart School’s Beat Generation Connection – see here
Steven Belletto, author of The Beats: A Literary History (2020), wrote a comprehensive obituary – “On The Life of A Titan – Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919-2021)” – You can read that on the European Beat Studies Network page – here
Another rare item – Lew Welch – Howling in His Hills of Sur by Ewan Clark (from Sea Urchin Editions/Counter Culture Chronicles/Casioli Press). Ewan Clark is a writer and English teacher at a secondary school in Utrecht, The Netherlands and has written a hitherto unpublished biography of Lew Welch, of which this little chapbook (in a numbered edition of 70) is an excerpt. It draws from the correspondence between Lou Welch and Robert Duncan
& thrilled to see Jeremy Lybarger‘s essay-review of The Selected Letters of John Wieners in The Nation this week – “The Altered States of John Wieners” – “In his letters”, Lybarger writes, “we can glimpse a radiant, jazz-struck testament to the vocation of poetry”- Poetry as commitment, poetry as devotion – The letters “comprise a loose narrative arc from near innocence to experience. They’re also a moving account of one man’s commitment to the salvational possibilities of art.”
No Allen (directly) in the Round-Up this week (but, of course, he’s, ubiquitous, everywhere)