Gregory Corso: Contribution as American Poet

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      Gregory Corso (1930-2001) is the most memorable of the Beat poets. As a poet, he has evolved a distinct identity or their identities out of his poems. "Should I get married or should I be good" begins one of his most famous poems, "Marriage" (1959) which then presents him trying of possible marriages, inventing potential selves, only to discard each one of them in turn. The poet is, sometimes, like, Whitman's "essential me," standing apart from the game of life. The rapidity of Corso's verse lines is part of his message and they are subversive humor and unpredictable alternations of the pace and tone. The poet will not be tied down by any of the institutions or forms whether they involve meter or marriage. 'Beat poetry was the most anti-establishment form of literature in the United States but beneath its shocking words, lies the love of the country. The poetry is a cry of pain and rage at what the poets see as the loss of America's innocence and the tragic waste of its human and material resources.

      Unlike, the Beat, San Francisco poets, the New York School poets are not very much interested in overtly moral questions, and in general, they steer clear of political issues. They have the best formal education of any group. The major figures of the New York School - John Ashbury, Frank O'Hara, and Kenneth Koch - met while they were undergraduates at Harvard University. They are quintessentially urban, cool, non-religious, and witty with a poignant, pastel sophistication. Their poems are fast moving, full of urban detail, incongruity, and an almost palpable sense of Suspended belief.

      New York City is the center of Abstract fine arts and the birth place of Abstract Expressionism, a major inspiration of this poetry. Most of the poets worked as art reviewers or museum curators, or collaborated with painters. Because of their feeling for abstract art, poet distrust figurative shapes and obvious meanings. Their work is often difficult to comprehend, as in the later work of John Ashbery (1927-), perhaps the most influential poet writing today. Ashbery’s fluid poems record thoughts and emotions as they wash over the mind too swiftly for the direct articulation. His profound, long poem, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975) which won three major prizes.

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