Grunge Crock

Last month, former grunge god Billy Corgan made his live debut as a would-be literary giant, reading poems from his recently published first volume of verse, Blinking With Fists, at the prestigious Poetry Center of Chicago. Tickets for the event were $35 each.

Among the pieces Corgan performed was his book's opener, "Poetry of My Heart," which begins thusly:

Revealing now the poetry of my heart
Think birds in flight and you will start to come close
As faces come from the darkness familiar
To greet you hello again...
Now follow these birds faithfully, keeping those faces in mind
Over rivers and dales and soft greens until we come to the edge of the vast ocean
The biggest sea you may imagine and more...

Reviews were mixed. Slam poet and editor C.J. Laity bitch-slapped Corgan for what he termed the former Smashing Pumpkins frontman's "forced, sophomoric attempts at creating what he must have thought poetry is supposed to sound like.

"For the most part, his poetry was so bad, it was comical," Laity wrote. "It sounded like a pile of high school assignments composed by the C-minus student in the class."

But Chicago Sun-Times critic Jeff Vrabel gave Corgan props, describing his verse as "full of the regretful melancholy of his music and the rhythmic, angular wordplay of his best Pumpkins lyrics."

Since the Chicago reading, Corgan has been on the road promoting his book. He is scheduled to appear twice in Denver this Saturday, first at a free signing at the LoDo Tattered Cover. (Note: Corgan will sign his book only, the promotional materials stress, ABSOLUTELY NO MEMORABILIA!) Later, Corgan will give a reading at the Soiled Dove.

"I'm not comfortable with straight reading," Corgan wrote in a post to his website last week. "I think it's kind of boring. So I'm trying to figure out a way to do the poetry in some musical context."

Of the harsh reviews, Corgan writes, "When haven't the knives been out for me? I've been criticized for every album I released, so why should the criticism be any different for a different body of work?"

But remember, kids, despite all his rage, he's still just a rat in a cage.

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David Holthouse
Contact: David Holthouse

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