Beat Generation Essays

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Though rarely substantiated by a precise definition, such commonplace juxtapositions lend a deceptively axiomatic aura of legitimacy to comparisons of the two arts However, the authors themselves leave many ambiguities and questions as to exactly how they incorporate jazz into their works.

Kerouac, for example, compares the writer directly to a jazzman, and sums up his writing technique as "blowing (as per jazz musician) on subject of image," but neglects to provide specific details as to how a writer should incorporate "blowing" into his prose.

Corso soon met Kerouac and seduced his girlfriend, which became the plot of Kerouac’s novel “The Subterraneans.”Critics found echoes of Corso in Ginsberg’s work, but their voices remained distinct.

Compared to Ginsberg, Corso was “calm and quick, whimsical often, witty rather than humorous, semantically swift rather than prophetically incantatory,” Geoffrey Thurley wrote in a piece collected in “The Beats: Essays in Criticism.”Corso’s first poems were published in 1955 in the Harvard Advocate.

He lived in orphanages and foster homes until he was 11, when his father took him in. At 12 he was in trouble with the law for selling a stolen radio and spent several months behind bars.

Abused by other prisoners, he later spent three months under observation at Bellevue Hospital.

Corso, who had a disastrous childhood and discovered literature while incarcerated, saw poetry as an ethical act that could change society.

The Beat movement that embraced him presaged the social and political unrest of the 1960s.“Sometimes Allen Ginsberg used to say that he was a fraud and that Gregory was the true great poet of the Beat generation,” said poet Lewis Mac Adams. He lived the life and died the death of a poet who had given his entire life to that arcane and magnificent art.” Corso wrote or contributed to more than 20 books of poetry, the most notable of which include “Bomb,” “Elegiac Feelings American” and “Gasoline.”He moved to San Francisco too late to participate in what is often cited as the first major public event in the evolution of the Beat movement--Ginsberg’s reading of his seminal poem, “Howl"--but he wrote with Ginsberg one of its manifestos, an article called “The Literary Revolution in America.”Corso was an “orphan street kid adopted by the Beats,” said Herbert Gold, novelist and author of “Bohemia: Digging the Roots of Cool,” who spent time with Corso, Ginsberg and other Beat poets in Paris in the late 1950s.

After his release, he went to work as a manual laborer in New York, as a reporter for the old Los Angeles Examiner, and as a merchant seaman on ships bound for Africa and South America.

In 1950, he was working on his first poems when he met Ginsberg in a Greenwich Village bar, and Ginsberg encouraged his writing.


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