One night a Columbia College student, Allen Ginsberg, happened into the Pony Stable and saw Corso… “he was good looking, and wondered if he was gay, or what.” Corso, who was definitely not gay, was not uncomfortable with same sex come-ons after his time in prison, and thought he could score a beer off Ginsberg. He showed Ginsberg some of the poems he was writing, a number of them from prison, and Ginsberg immediately recognized Corso as “spiritually gifted”. One poem described a woman who sunbathed in a window bay across the street from Corso’s room on 12th Street. Astonishingly, the woman happened to be Ginsberg’s erstwhile girl friend, with whom he lived in one of his rare forays into heterosexuality. Ginsberg invited Corso back to their apartment and asked the woman if she would satisfy Corso’s sexual curiosity. She agreed, but Corso, still a virgin, got too nervous as she disrobed, and he ran from the apartment, struggling with his pants. Ginsberg and Corso became fast friends. All his life, Ginsberg had a sexual attraction to Corso, which remained unrequited.
Corso joined the Beat circle and was adopted by its co-leaders, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, who saw in the young street-wise writer a potential for expressing the poetic insights of a generation wholly separate from those preceding it. At this time he developed a crude and fragmented mastery of Shelley, Marlowe, and Chatterton. Shelley’s “A Defence of Poetry” (1840), with its emphasis on the ability of genuine poetic impulse to stimulate “unapprehended combinations of thought” that led to the “moral improvement of man,” prompted Corso to develop a theory of poetry roughly consistent with that of the developing principles of the Beat poets. For Corso, poetry became a vehicle for change, a way to redirect the course of society by stimulating individual will.12 He referred to Shelley often as a “Revolutionary of Spirit”, which he considered Ginsberg and himself to be3 months ago