Well, yeah, if you look at my history with bands, it always turns out real good,” the singer-songwriter said, laughing. “I’m sure it will be a positive experience for them, too.”

Corgan was being wry. In 2000, his multiplatinum band the Smashing Pumpkins – a leader in the early 1990s alternative rock revolution – broke up after 13 strife-ridden years, and his subsequent project, Zwan, dissolved after only one album. Fellow band members characterized him as a perfectionist.

Corgan, who now jokes about his “tyrannical” ways, is beginning a new phase of his career – alone.

The 37-year-old spent September and early October in a Chicago recording studio, finishing work on his first solo album, scheduled for release on Warner Bros. Records in the spring.

Corgan is also writing a novel, working on a DVD of acoustic songs from a concert last spring, and spent the baseball season as a “correspondent” for Chicago radio station WXRT-FM, talking about his beloved Chicago Cubs.

He also just released a book of poetry, “Blinking With Fists,” published by Faber and Faber, Inc., and is spending the rest of October on a 16-city tour of poetry readings and book signings to support it.

In the recording studio, Corgan is relaxed, talkative and tired. He has the beginnings of a beard, and hair is growing back on his signature shaven head. He was in the studio 50 straight days, trying to finish mixing work on the album before heading out on the poetry tour.

Many of the poems have a similar evocative, melancholy feel as his lyrics, but Corgan doesn’t see the forms as interchangeable. “They have a different intensity and rhythm. Song lyrics tend to be really focused – you have to say a lot in a very short amount of time, and a lot of it is implied. Poetry, you don’t have those restrictions,” he said.

At Faber and Faber, senior editor Denise Oswald saw in Corgan’s poetry something more than just a vanity project.

“Popular music has taken the place of what poetry was saying in the ’50s, when we had the Beats,” Oswald said. “For a musician to turn in earnest to writing poetry makes complete sense to me.”

Still, Oswald said she was a bit concerned about working with a celebrity with a prickly reputation.

She found Corgan always easy to reach and ready to discuss her suggestions.

“He was very gracious and defied all my expectations of what working with a quote-unquote rock star would be like,” she said.

Corgan says he looks to musicians who have had long careers, such as Bob Dylan, for guidance on staying fresh and avoiding what he calls the “Elvis paradigm.”

“Which is like, you’re young, you’re good looking, you write some great songs and everybody wants to come listen to your band play. And then at some point, those sets of attractors stop working,” Corgan said. “I think the problem from the artist’s point of view is you keep trying to restimulate those same attractors.”

Music critic Jim DeRogatis, who writes for the Chicago Sun-Times and has followed Corgan’s career since the early days of the Smashing Pumpkins, thinks Corgan has matured as an artist and a person in recent years, though he says Corgan still works himself too hard, which leads to trouble collaborating with other musicians.

Corgan’s work, however, particularly with the Smashing Pumpkins, will be an enduring legacy, he said.

Corgan hasn’t divorced himself from all reminders of his past musical life.

He still lives in Chicago – a city he calls “so solid, there’s nothing flaky about it.” He performed his acoustic show at the Metro, the same intimate venue where the Smashing Pumpkins debuted as a band.

He also freely discusses some of the problems with band dynamics and personality clashes that led to its breakup.

“If I look back at some of the decisions I made with the Pumpkins, I would do things maybe in a kinder way. But the intention of what I was trying to do, which was to have the best band make the best music, I don’t apologize for that at all. … My heart in it was good, and I know that.”

Despite the past problems, Corgan hasn’t ruled out working with a band again.

“When it’s right, it’s still the best. I still say the best music is made by bands,” he said. “I think that’s pretty much been proven to be true.”

But for now, Corgan is focusing on expanding his artistic reach – alone.

“For me, it’s all from the same idea. I just want to do new things that are exciting to me. And from the outside, they may not look like wise, commercial, MTV-career-building moves, but I really don’t care anymore,” he said. “I did it. I did it once already, and it was fun. I’m glad I did it. But there’s so many incredible challenges.”