Categories: Beat News

Sarpedon: A Play by Gregory Corso

Prior to the publication of his first collection of poetry, The Vestal Lady on Brattle and Other Poems (1955), Beat poet Gregory Corso wrote three plays while living as a “stowaway” on the campus of Harvard University.

The first of these plays, written in 1954, was Sarpedon, which Corso described as “a great funny Prometheus Unbound … all in metre and rhyme” and “…an attempt to replicate Euripides, though the whole shot be an original.”

The play comprises 17 pages of this volume which also includes a two-page introduction by Corso himself, taken from a transcript of his prefatory remarks at his 1978 reading of Sarpedon at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. Also included are an editor’s introduction which provides information about the plays Corso wrote while at Harvard and describes the circumstances surrounding his brief residence in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Corso never professed to be a Greek scholar but this brilliant yet little-known work clearly demonstrates the depth of his mastery of classical literature, no doubt picked up from auditing Harvard lectures as well as from the extensive reading he did in the Clinton State Prison library in Dannemora, New York, while serving a three-year sentence for theft. What makes it all the more significant is that, despite the ancient subject matter, his verse is infused with the street slang and Beat vernacular of the time in which it was written, and portends the irreverent humor that would become a hallmark of much of his later work.

Find it on Amazon:

  • Text from the Amazon description
David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the founder and editor of Beatdom literary journal and the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs the Weird Cult and World Citizen: Allen Ginsberg as Traveller.

Recent Posts

Beatdom #21: An Overview

Beatdom #21 is the CHANGE issue, in which we look at the Beat writers (and…

3 days ago

Beatdom #21 – Contents

In a little over one month, we will release Beatdom #21. This year, we have…

4 weeks ago

Out Now: Burroughs and Scotland

Today, Beatdom Books is delighted to announce the release of Burroughs and Scotland, an important…

1 month ago

Burroughs and Scotland

Beatdom is proud to announce the publication of Chris Kelso's next book, Burroughs & Scotland.…

3 months ago

New Beat Generation Books 2021

Though Kerouac and Cassady died more than fifty years ago and the Beat heyday was…

3 months ago

An Interview with Allen Ginsberg

This interview was conducted on 22nd May, 1988 at the Caffé Trieste in San Francisco. Am…

5 months ago

This website uses cookies.