|(L-R) Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, & Gregory Corso|
Streetwise Beat poet Gregory Corso died this date -- January 17 -- in 2001 at the age of 70. An important inner circle Beat Generation figure (and youngest), Corso appeared in a number of Jack Kerouac's works: Yuri Gligoric in The Subterraneans; Raphael Urso in Book of Dreams and Desolation Angels (also as Gregory in the latter); and, Manuel in Beat Generation.
Corso had a tough upbringing and experienced foster homes, orphanages, prison, and even time in Bellevue Hospital. You can read a bio and some of his poetry by clicking here.
I glanced through my copies of Kerouac's selected letters and noticed that several times he wrote to Corso along with Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, but there is one lengthy letter written to Corso alone when Jack was in Northport on October 13, 1956. An excerpt follows:
I just read your latest letter to Allen about Zen-nutty and you're right, in fact I've not been able to "meditate" or make any buddhist scene now for a long time and have actually started writing catholic poems and sending them to Jubilee Magazine tho I'm aware that all the scenes are the same empty scene. Your criticism of buddhism in other words is fairly accurate but you mustnt let yourself be fooled every moment of your life into believing there's any special "reality" to either life or death, you say people die real deaths but in a few hundred years who's to remember or notice that it was real death? (Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1957-1969, 1999, p. 178, Penguin Books)
RIP, Mr. Corso.