Multimedia: The Last Beat

UC festival celebrates the life of and legacy of beat poet Gregory Corso

Jan 26, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Poet Gregory Corso has been called “The Last Beat.” Indeed, that is the title of a new documentary by Gustave Reininger to be shown as part of the upcoming "I Gave Away the Sky" Corso festival at University of Cincinnati.

The festival considers Corso’s work and legacy through an art exhibition, lecture, poetry reading, an evening of music and the film. The term “last,” in regards to Corso, refers to the fact he outlived other Beat writers, notably Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Corso died in 2001 at the age 70 after writing such touchstones as The Happy Birthday of Death, Gasoline and Bomb.

The festival's myriad events lead up to the preview of the not-yet-released documentary The Last Beat. Narrated by Ethan Hawke, the film follows Corso in his last years as he traveled the globe in search of inspiration and traces down the mother he had never known. The film will be shown on Feb. 6 at 5:30 p.m. in the DAAP Theatre, Room 4400, followed by a closing reception for the festival in the Reed Gallery from 8-10 pm.

An avant-garde Jazz performance by CCM musicians celebrating the spirit of Gregory Corso
will begin the evening at 5 p.m. A Q & A with Reininger (pictured) will follow the screening from 7-7:30 p.m. and then at 7:30 p.m. the audience is invited to food and drinks in DAAP's Reed Gallery as part of a closing reception for the art exhibition The Stars in the Sky Are Still Boss. The entire evening is free and open to the public.

By using the multidisciplinary approach to study Corso’s writing, the event organizers show how the arts are fields of research and discovery. Corso’s epitaph reads: “Spirit/ Is Life/ It flows through/ The death of me/ Endlessly/ Like a River/ Unafraid/ Of Becoming/ The sea.”

If our present memories of this “last Beat poet” are a drizzle now, one hopes those attending the festival will experience the full crashing waves of Corso’s enduring importance to literature and the arts.

Read more about the entire festival here and read Jason Gargano's interview with Reininger here.