Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Dan Schneider's Article on Gregory Corso

Originally posted on my old Tripod blog on Thursday, 30 June 2005

I just read a very interesting analysis of Gregory Corso's work by Dan Schneider. What was most interesting was Schneider's rating of Corso above Kerouac and Burroughs in the Beat pantheon. Only Ginsberg came out ahead of Corso. Schneider says:

'the Beat Generation, i.e. - the Beatniks - really just consisted of 2 real poetic talents & a lot of hangers-on. The 2 being Allen Ginsberg & Gregory Corso. Kerouac & Burroughs were really prosists - & mediocre, at best, LeRoi Jones a token, & Anne Waldman & Diane Di Prima bedwarmers'.

While I understand Burroughs's placement, I think Kerouac should be awarded more credit. Yes, much of his prose is prosaic but his poetry by far makes up for this. His use of novel word juxtapositions in '211th Chorus': 'quivering meat / conception', and in 'The Thrashing Doves': 'all the balloon of the shroud on the floor' are, like Ginsberg's use of them in Howl ('hydrogen dukebox, starry / dynamo in the machinery of night'), truly inspired. It is difficult to imagine what early Bob Dylan would have been like had these lines not been written.

I think that Corso's placement in the pantheon (given that Kerouac was primarily a novelist) is about right. His poetry, despite a tendency towards the prosaic, does generalize sufficiently for connotation to operate. And Schneider is right in citing Corso's 'Last Night I Drove a Car' and 'The Mad Yak' as being particularly inane.