Gregory Corso, 70, one of the circle of Beat poets that included Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, died of prostate cancer Jan. 17 at a hospital in Robinsdale, Minn.
Mr. Corso, who was born in New York's Greenwich Village, was the author or co-author of more than 20 collections of poetry and other works. Ginsberg discovered him in the 1950s. Mr. Corso's first poems were published in 1955.
One of his best-known works was the 1958 poem "Bomb," an ode to atomic weapons in the shape of a mushroom cloud. "Know that the earth will madonna the Bomb/ that in the hearts of men to come more bombs will be born/ magisterial bombs wrapped in ermine," he wrote.
Among his collections of poems are "Gasoline," "Elegiac Feelings American" and "Mindfield."
He remained active until his death, recently recording a CD with Marianne Faithfull.
Mr. Corso was born March 26, 1930, to teenage parents who separated a year after his birth. His own biographical notes in a compilation called "The New American Poetry" give a sample of his style and the early hardship of his life:
"Born by young Italian parents, father 17 mother 16, born in New York City Greenwich Village 190 Bleecker, mother year after me left not-too-bright father and went back to Italy, thus I entered life of orphanage and four foster parents and at 11 father remarried and took me back but all was wrong because two years later I ran away and caught sent away again and sent away to boys home for two years and let out and went back home and ran away again and sent to Bellevue for observation . . . "
At age 17, Mr. Corso went to prison for three years on a theft charge. After his release in 1950, he worked as a laborer in New York City, a newspaper reporter in Los Angeles and a sailor on a boat to Africa and South America.
It was in New York City that he first met Ginsberg, who introduced him to contemporary, experimental work.
Maria Damon, an English professor at the University of Minnesota who has taught Beat literature, spent a week studying under Mr. Corso at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colo., in 1977. While Mr. Corso was lesser known than Ginsberg and Kerouac, he deserves no less recognition, she said.
"I would say that he was very gifted, also undisciplined, which is part of the beauty of Beat writing," she said. "He was very well-read but not from formal schooling. He put things together in a highly romanticized way."
Michael Skau, author of a 1999 book on Mr. Corso, said Mr. Corso was a media favorite when the Beat movement exploded in the 1950s because he was "the prototype of a bad boy."
"He was very disruptive whether it was a social setting or a literary setting, very antagonistic even toward his closest friends," Skau said. "Ginsberg tolerated behavior from Corso that made Ginsberg look like a saint."
Mr. Corso was married three times. Survivors include five children, seven grandchildren and a great-grandchild.