Stephen Hugh-Jones: "an untruth in yr website"
[Ed. note: the following is an email sent by Mr. Hugh-Jones to MAPS]
by chance, i came upon my own name in your website...
(try: modern american poetry---corso---bomb)
in which you cite the autobiography of dom moraes....
....in which he avers that when gregory corso and allen ginsberg came to oxford university in the late 1950s, and corso read a poem about the hydrogen bomb to the "new college poetry society", the members of the said society led by myself started throwing our shoes at him
your quotation is no doubt accurate, verbally; and i wouldn't turn a hair if it were true. but i fear the best bit of the alleged event is moraes's fantasy.
as anyone who knew him will tell you, dom moraes was a brilliant, stunningly good, young poet--and an equally skilled affabulist and fond of exercising that skill.
corso and ginsberg indeed came to oxford, and indeed read some poems. (though, not that it matters, not to any "New College poetry society"--no such society, to my memory, ever existed. this may have been a meeting of the university labour club, perhaps? i don't know).
more to the point, the shoe-throwing is pure invention.
the assembled oxford students certainly heckled corso. alas, we threw no shoes. britons--like americans/french/chinese/most others--don't throw shoes as a sign of disapproval (even if they believed in smashing up their host's pictures and windows with the heavy english shoes worn in those days, to mark their disapproval of one of his guests).
in contrast, there is indeed a well known indian phrase--i've no idea if these days it's a genuine indian habit-- "throwing one's chappals [light sandals] at so-and-so" to mark one's disapproval. and, not by coincidence, dom moraes is an indian.
i would not be in the least ashamed, then or now, to have led disapproval of a silly poem by a silly man, as corso (strikingly unlike ginsberg) and his poem then appeared to be. but the shoe-throwing simply didn't happen, period.
merely in the interests of truth--not myself, i've done much sillier things than throw shoes 40-odd years ago--you should append a note to this extract, lest fantasy be taken for fact (as it already has in at least one biography of ginsberg). i suggest the following:
"The alleged leader of the alleged shoe-throwing records--to his regret, but from personal knowledge--that the high point of this entertaining tale is fantasy. We thought it a lousy poem, but we threw no shoes."
|Title||Stephen Hugh-Jones: "an untruth in yr website"||Type of Content||Criticism|
|Criticism Author||Stephen Hugh-Jones||Criticism Target||Gregory Corso|
|Criticism Type||Poet||Originally Posted||05 Jul 2015|
|Publication Status||Original Criticism||Publication||No Data|
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