Litkicks Message Board Archive
Report from the funeral
I was told to show up at Our Lady of Pompeii at 9:30 am -- stupid me, I didn't realize until the actual pallbearers started walking down the aisle with the coffin that this was not just a poetry reading/service -- this was the funeral. Wow. I would have dressed better. Or at least I would have thought about dressing better.
It was a wonderfully moving service. The church is on Carmine Street in Greenwich Village and is apparently where Gregory was baptized, a church his mother regularly attended (back before it was completely hip, Greenwich Village was a largely Italian residential neighborhood). It is a beautiful, ornate and cheerful church. Either by design or by chance, the large back windows of the church are set so that the morning sunlight infuses the entire room with white light.
It was a traditional Catholic service, presided over by the smiling Rev. Joseph A. Cogo, who seemed aware that this was not just any funeral. He spoke some perceptive words about the human right to be a non-conformist, and said something about God giving us freedom to be ourselves, which I wish I could remember. Gregory's close friend Roger Richards delivered a touching eulogy, and Patti Smith sang a beautiful song (I don't know the title, but the lyrics may have been about Gregory), with David Amram playing flute, as the Reverend circled Gregory's coffin waving incense.
I wished we could have heard from others in the crowd, like Bob Holman, Ed Sanders, Tuli Kupferberg, Marty Matz, Ira Cohen, Janine Pommy Vega, Steve Dalachinsky, Eliot Katz ... I could go on and on. But this was a funeral, not a poetry reading (as I'd expected it to be) -- and I think there will be a public reading somewhere else in the Village in the next few days. I'll post about it as soon as I find out.
Leaving the church, I remembered something I'd forgotten up till that moment. At the Whitney Museum's exhibit of Beat Art a few years ago, one of my favorite pieces was a small collage of at least a hundred church steeples, all cut out of photos and glued together into a single arrangement. Gregory Corso was the artist, and I think this was his only entry in the Whitney exhibit. I love art that is small, unique, highly detailed and highly unappreciated. "Found Art" ... like Gregory's life. Anyway, I was honored to be at this funeral.