I attended and graduated from Goddard College (Vermont, USA) in the early-1970s (toward the end of the “hippie era”). These were formative years for me, both as an artist, a writer and otherwise (philosophy, social theory, sex-drugs-rock n’ roll, etc.). Among the many interesting famous artists and authors I had the pleasure of meeting was one Gregory Corso. I lived in a student collective for organic food, Eastern philosophy, LSD and nudism freaks at the time, and it was perhaps “natural” for Mr. Corso to seek temporary lodging during his short stay at the college there where I lived. I was proud to offer him my room … well, until he promptly began “showing his ass”. His being “high” was not unusual for us — we were often “flying” in one way or another … but that combined with his rather nasty drunk personality soon became unbearable, even for the most radical of us at what was then often referred to as a “rest home for New York hippies” by non-hippie/non-hip conservative academia in America. Gregory Corso was a brilliant poet, and an interesting personality — but like Jean Genet, he seemed to me to be somewhat of a genius thug that refused to grow up. He wore me out so much that by the time he had his long-awaited poetry reading in the college library (where I sat on the floor in the first row, just inches from him), I quickly dozed off, snoring like a “muthafukka”.
Poor Gregory was furious at me, but I just apologised half-heartedly and replied: “Well, touché … I guess we are now even.”
See you next time around, dear Gregory. I have not forgotten you, you crazy fuck!
THIS INTERESTING(?) INCIDENT OCCURRED NOT LONG AFTER MY OWN CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH GREGORY.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
You were my idol —
back in the day …
I was so proud that
you actually spoke to me,
and appeared to like me …
me: a man.
A man who flitted back
and forth between male
and female lovers on the
campus of Goddard College …
in the “golden days”.
You were well-known amongst
“those in the know” back then,
but not as famous as now.
No, I really liked your energy;
your sense of womanhood
So unlike other celebrities
I had met around the same time:
like the rude Gregory Corso,
and the elusive and quiet Anaïs Nin.
You embraced personhood for me.
And you gave me strength that
I have used in my fight against
(from “JISEI – Death poems and daily reflections by a person with AIDS” (2013)).
POETRY FOUNDATION ON GREGORY CORSO
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