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The Happy Birthday of Death Paperback – January 17, 1960

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gregory Corso (1930-2001) was abandoned by his mother a month after his birth at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York. Growing up in foster care and on the streets of Little Italy, Corso was a juvenile delinquent who spent time in Clinton Correctional Facility, in the cell recently vacated by gangster "Lucky" Luciano. An aspiring poet, Corso was taken under the wing of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, and became the youngest member of the Beat Generation's inner circle, with whom he lived and work in the Beat Hotel, a lodging house in Paris, during the late fifties. There he created one of his signature works, "Bomb", a poem composed of typewritten strips of paper arranged in the shape of a mushroom cloud. Late in life, Corso became reunited with his mother and maintained a close relationship with her until his death.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 92 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (January 17, 1960)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811200272
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811200271
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #483,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By jstadler437@earthlink.net on September 25, 1998
Format: Paperback
Gregory Corso is the only member of the Beat Generation who seems to be left out of the current revival of the Beats literature among today's youth. Which is a shame , because they're missing out on what is, in my opinion, the best poetry of the genre. "The Happy Birthday of Death" is the best example of this, as Corso makes a language that is uniquely his own, the sign of a first-class poet. The best poem is without a doubt "Bomb", his love ode (!) to nuclear war, but other titles such as "Power", "Army", "Police", and "Marriage" stand out as well as examples of "pure poetry" (to quote Ginsberg), deep in imagery and passion. The problem is, most people have never had the pleasure to read Corso's work. For myself, I don't know what I'd do without it.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Pj Belgardt on June 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
Perhaps the man who along with Allan Ginsberg altered the way poetry was written and percieved. This is by far his most eclectic collection, featuring the masterful BOMB (perhaps the ultimate epithath for the 20th century) and the brilliant and moving MARRIAGE, POWER, CLOWN and POLICE more of the contents that show what a clever witty deep commentator Corso is. Poems you can mull ove? Definatly! Poems you can analyse? Undoubtable! But here is a collection you can read again and again and enjoy again and again.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By heather williams on March 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Gregory Corso must have been sitting in an empty room, with nothing more to think of than the emotions controlling his mind. In this book of poetry, the reader will gain a new appreciation for his work. The Happy Birthday of Death is one of the most powerful, and intense collections of writing available.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dragon Lilly on June 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
I fell upon this book in my university library on a cold, miserable, lonely afternoon. I sat under a maple tree and reading it suddenly I am uplifted, inspired renewed and in love with the verse of Corso, so much so that I had to not only own it but write essays about it, I am, like so many others saddened and grieving that he is so understated. "Marriage" is particularly delectable, though my favourites would have to be "Hair" and "Park". Corso gives what so many poets do not; a joyous and truly wonderous love of words, such that my own writer spirit is awakened. I recommend this book highly to any with a youthful, playful spirit. This is for the artist's heart. Corso has moved me, for you I hope he will do the same.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W. Davis on February 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Historic reference of import: January 1st 1947, the Manhattan Project is given to the United States Atomic Energy commission. The date of publication for this collection closely corresponds. The focus is death, but what is more interesting is all the matter surrounding it, which Corso masterfully draws (i.e. the chaos). In the midst, Police brutality and the Cold War and Civil Rights Movement bombarded citizens every day. One of the jobs of a poet is the preservation of time. The Beat Generation is born out of the Modernists such as William Carlos Williams. Gregory Corso is not the standard poet aligning with the Modernist tradition. An intense energy radiates that is very difficult for the reader to contain, which is parallel to the energy of emotions spawned from this momentous event, which changed the World.
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Format: Paperback
It was strange, I still don't know exactly what to think of it except that I enjoyed it greatly. At first it seemed almost like pure chaos. The words barely held in relation to the other. Sometimes they appeared as if chosen at random. Perhaps they were. In every poem there was a meaning that defied reason, even by the standards of poetry, but something was there that held it together. An amorphous purpose that can only be communicated in the funky style that Corso writes in.

The guy has a sense of humor. "Marriage" isn't too far from stand up comedy. Then there's more angered poems like "Bomb" which exposes raw, angry horror of war. His work must be read out loud.

I could only take so many poems at a time though. The anarchy of his poems wears me down after 3 or 4, in which I had to duck out for a minute. Each time I came back. And I will read the rest of his works.
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