5. St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery
Gregory Corso, the youngest of the Beat poets, took his poetry–and Smith’s–seriously. He dragged her to St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery, the second-oldest church in Manhattan for the St. Mark’s Poetry Project, a poets’ collective. Corso would reportedly heckle other reading poets with cries of “Shit! No blood! Get a transfusion!” Mapplethorpe promised Smith he would get her a reading, and he did.
She decided to “infuse the written word with the immediacy and frontal attack of rock and roll.” With Mapplethorpe, Corso, Warhol and a large group of friends in the audience, she introduced St. Mark’s Church to the electric guitar; a friend played it while she half sang, half recited her poetry. After her successful reception there, the opportunities, she felt, came “too easy.”