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   Gregory Corso Papers 1949-1996.

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Gregory Corso Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).
picture

Summary Information

Abstract

Includes published and unpublished writings, artwork, correspondence, and sound recordings created by or related to the Beat poet Gregory Corso.

At a Glance

Call No.:MS#0285
Bib ID:4078654 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Corso, Gregory.
Title:Gregory Corso Papers 1949-1996.
Physical description:5 linear ft ( 10 document boxes and 7 oversized folders)
Language(s): Material is primarily in English with some Italian and Czech.
Access: This collection is located on-site. This collection has no restrictions.  More information »

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in 6 series:

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Description

Scope and Content

The Gregory Corso Papers contains correspondence, artwork, and published and unpublished writings, as well as photographs and sound recordings of Corso and fellow beat writers. Many of the items in the collection include explanatory notes or annotations that Corso added when preparing to sell these papers.

Series 1: Correspondence, 1955-1979 and Undated

This series contains correspondence written to Corso as well as letters and notes written by Corso to others. The material is arranged alphabetically by correspondent's last name, and then chronologically within each correspondent. Letters written by Corso that remain in the collection are generally items that were written but never posted, rather than carbons of outgoing correspondence.

Series II: Photographs, 1962-1967 and Undated

This series contains a small number of photographs, professional portraits as well as snapshopts, of Corso and his friends and associates. There are also a small number of photographs in the correspondence series that were enclosures in letters and remain in their original context; this is noted in the finding aid.

Series III: Writings, 1949-1996 and Undated

The writings series, the largest in the collection, is primarily comprised of poetry, with some prose writing. The items in this series are listed individually by title, if supplied, or by the first line of the poem. Also included in this series are a number of notebooks containing poems, poetry fragments, notes, and sketches.

Series IV: Artwork, 1954-1977 and Undated

This series contains artwork, mostly sketches and drawings done by Corso, as well as a very few items created by others. There are some larger format items, including oil paintings done by Corso and a large oil portrait of the poet in this series as well. The Robert LaVigne Papers contain some sketches of LaVigne done by Corso, as well as portraits of Corso by LaVigne and Jack Kerouac.

Series V: Printed Material, 1958-1972

The printed material series includes editions of Corso's printed work, including work published in literary journals or magazines as well as anthologies and books of Corso's poetry in translation. Additionally, the series contains several books, journals, and independent literary magazines from Corso's collection including a large number that originally belonged to the San Francisco poet Lenore Kandel. These literary magazines are of particular interest to the researcher studying San Francisco's underground poetry scene in the 1950s and 1960s.

Series VI: Sound Recordings, 1966 and Undated

The sound recordings series is comprised of 5 reels of audio tape containing readings by Corso as well as his associates such as Ezra Pound, Lenore Kandel, Ken Kesey, Allen Ginsberg, and Michael McClure. Digital access copies are available at the library.

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Using the Collection

RBML

Access Restrictions

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts/University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Due to the fragility of the media, it is The Rare Book and Manuscript Library's policy to not allow patron access to unique audio visual material such as audio cassettes, reel-to-reel tapes, film, analog records, and videotapes. Some of the audio content from this collection has been digitized and is available in the repository, other items may be digitized at a patron's request. If you are interested in using any of the audio visual material in the collection access to this type of material, please contact Access Services at rbml@library.columbia.edu

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Gregory Corso Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Material-- At Columbia

Reminiscences of Gregory Nunzio Corso: Oral History, Columbia University Oral History Research Office

Allen Ginsberg Papers, 1943-1991 Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

Related Material-- Other Repositories

Gregory Corso Collection, 1890-1978, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Cataloged 05/09/89 Christina Hilton Fenn

Typescript and galley proofs of MINDFIELDS. Processed 01/12/90 PL

Collection processed October 2009 by Carrie Hintz

Finding Aid written November 2009 by Carrie Hintz

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion November 12, 2009 Finding aid written in English.
    2009-11-12 File created.
    2009-11-24 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Drawings.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Galley proofs.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Journals.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Manuscripts.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Notebooks.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Paintings.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Poems.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Subjects

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
American literature--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Beat generation.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Biderman, Peggy.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Bohemianism--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Corso, Gregory.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ferlinghetti, Lawrence.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Olson, Charles, 1910-1970.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Orlovsky, Peter, 1933-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Poets, American--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Poets, American.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Soyer, Raphael, 1899-1987.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Gregory Nunzio Corso, born to very young Italian immigrants in New York's Greenwich Village, had a troubled childhood. His mother left Corso's father and her son within a year of Gregory's birth, and he spent most of his youth moving between different foster homes and orphanages or living on the street. As a teenager, he landed briefly in jail and spent three months under psychiatric evaluation at Bellevue, but it was his three years incarcerated in New York's Clinton State Prison (as a repeat offender for theft) that proved to be transformative for Corso. In the prison library he discovered Rimbaud and Percy Shelley and it was during this stint in jail that he began to write poetry.

In 1950, upon his release from prison, Corso again began to frequent the bars and cafeĢs of Greenwich Village. It was here that he met Allen Ginsberg who introduced the young poet to Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and the rest of the original members of the Beat Generation. Corso's commitment to creating spontaneous poetry fit in well with the beats' "New Vision" for American poetry and Corso was quickly integrated into the group of friends, traveling with them to give poetry readings in San Francisco and collaborating with them on various creative projects.

Corso's first book of poetry, The Vestal Lady on Brattle was published in 1955 and gained Corso some critical acclaim and enough money to fund his travels through abroad. He traveled through Europe and set up residence in the Paris boarding house later christened the Beat Hotel and, along with Ginsberg, Orlovsky, and Kerouac, traveled to Tangier to help William Burroughs edit teh amnuscript of The Naked Lunch.

Corso returned to New York in 1958 in time to see his book of poetry, Gasoline, published as part of City Lights' Pocket Poet series. Though he did write some plays and some prose, most notably the novel The American Express, his prime focus was always on his poetry and he published a number of books of poetry throughout his career and lectured on creative writing and poetry.

Gregory Corso died of complications from prostate cancer in 2001. He was 70 years old.

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