Gregory Corso gave one of his last college readings at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, on March 28, 1996. Corso begins with a brief lecture on Homer, before getting into the poetry.
At about 9:31, he mentions he never knew what happened to his mother (Michelina Colonna). “I’d asked my old man, and he said ‘I don’t know. She ran away. I put notices in the bottom of the New York Times and things like that’ … I never found out what happened to her.” Most of his life, he was led to believe she’d abandoned him and returned to Italy.
“Anything, of course, that goes into the water, comes back to the shore,” Corso muses, “So I had ideas of maybe seeing her one day.”
The next year, after Ginsberg died in 1997, filmmaker Gustave Reininger convinced Corso to accompany him to Europe to retrace the Beats’ footsteps. After expressing an interest in finding where his mother might be buried, Reininger discovered that she was in fact alive in Trenton, New Jersey, and the two were reunited in Reininger’s film Corso: The Last Beat.
Throughout this reading, Gregory frequently digresses to share other details from his life, and the background behind the creation of poems like “Greenwich Village Suicide,” “Italian Extravaganza,” “Sea Shanty,” “Notes After Blacking Out,” “Poets Hitchhiking on the Highway,” and others. Corso’s commentary provides an added richness and context to the work.
Produced by Kurt Hemmer, this reading was digitized and restored from an analog VHS videotape by Tom Knoff.