January 26, 2022

Cid Corman (USA) 1924-2004

Cid (Sidney) Corman (USA)

Born in Boston’s Roxbury area, Sidney Corman grew up with parents from the Ukraine in the Dorchester neighborhood. He attended Boston Latin School, in 1941 entering Tufts University, where he received Phi Beta Kappa honors. There,  he also began to write his first poems.
      During World War II, Corman was excused from service for medical problems, and he graduated from Tufts in 1945, moving on for a Master’s degree at the University of Michigan, where he won the Hopwood Poetry Award. Corman dropped out with two credits short of finishing his degree, moving for a while to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and traveling the US. He returned to Boston in 1948.

With the help of a high-school friend, Nat Hentoff, Corman, soon after, began what is claimed to be the nation’s first radio program devoted to poetry (WMEX) in Boston. The program featured numerous internationally renowned poets, including Robert Creeley, Stephen Spender, Theodore Roethke, and others, including readings from Melville’s Moby Dick and stories by Dylan Thomas and James Joyce.
     Corman, changing his first name to Cid, also spent time at the Yaddo artists’ retreat in Saratoga, writing prolifically in what he later considered as a poetic apprenticeship, deciding not to publish the poems of this period.
     In 1951, in response to a planned but failed project by his friend Robert Creeley, Corman began the magazine, Origin, devoted to one writer in each issue. Published, with various breaks, until the mid-1980s Origin featured the works of numerous American poets, including Creeley, Robert Duncan, Larry Eigner, Denise Levertov, William Bronk, Theodore Enslin, Charles Olson, Louis Zukofsky, Gary Synder, Lorine Neidecker, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Paul Blackburn, and Frank Samperi—many of these writers later connected with or influenced by the Objectivist Poets or poets involved with Black Mountain College, although Corman’s own work eschewed no single poetic formulation. Origin also began publishing books that included works by Corman and others.
     Winning a Fulbright Fellowship (with an endorsement by Marianne Moore), Corman moved to France in 1954, where he studied for a period at the Sorbonne, then moving to Italy to teach English in the town of Matera. It was at this time that Corman began publishing his numerous small books, the first major work, Sun Rock Man (1962), growing out of this period. He also experimented with oral poetry, improvising poetic texts much in the manner of poet David Antin. He also began what would become a lifetime of translating with the poem’s (without permission) of Paul Celan.
     Through friends, Corman was able, in 1958, to find a job teaching poetry in Kyoto, Japan, the city in which he would ultimately die on March 12, 2004. In Japan he continued to edit Origin, publishing Gary Snyder’s first book, Riprap. Although he returned to the United States for two years, he was drawn back to Japan, where he married the Japanese television news editor, Konishi Shizumi. With her, and with only a rudimentary knowledge of the language, Corman translated work by Bashō (considered among the best of English-language renditions) and the modernist poet Kusano Shimpei, and numerous other Japanese and European authors. Later the Cormans again returned to Boston, where they attempted several businesses, before returning to Kyoto, running the now-famed CC’s Coffee Shop where they offered poetry and western-style patisserie.
     Throughout his life Corman published voluminously, befriending a large number of American and Japanese poets, in particular the somewhat reclusive Lorine Niedecker. His work was described as “minimal,” “not aggressive, but central,” poetry, with its brief, Haiku-like lines, packed with deep, transformative insights. Hayden Carruth has written: ‘I detect in his work a Yankee toughness and existential lucidity that raise far above trivia,” obviously referring to both the intensity and lightness of Corman’s poetic line.


Subluna (privately printed, 1944); A Thanksgiving Ecologue from Theocritus (Corona, New York: Sparrow Press, 1954); The Precisions (Carona, New York: Sparrow Press, 1955); [with others] Ferrani and Others (Berlin: Gerhardt, 1955); The Responses (Ashland, Massachusetts: Origin Press, 1956); The Marches and Other Poems (Ashland, Massachusetts: Origin Press, 1957); Stances and Distances (Ashland, Massachusetts: Origin Press, 1957); A Table in Provence (Asland, Massachusetts: Origin Press, 1959); Clocked Stone (Kyoto, Japan: Origin Press, 1959); The Descent from Daimonji (Kyoto, Japan: Origin Press, 1959); Cool Gang (Ashland, Massauchetts: Origin Press, 1969); For Sure (Kyoto, Japan, 1960); January (Kyoto, 1960); For Instance (Ashland, Massachusetts: Origin Press, 1962); Sun Rock Man (Kyoto, Japan: Origin Press, 1962; reprinted New York: New Directions, 1970); In No Time (Kyoto, Japan: Origin Press, 1963); In Good Time (Kyoto, Japan: Origin Press, 1964); For Good (Kyoto, Japan, 1964); Nonce (New Rochelle, New York: Elizabeth Press, 1965); Stead (New Rochelle, New York: Elizabeth Press, 1966); For You (Kyoto, Japan: Origin Press, 1966); At Bottom (Bloomington, Indiana: Asphodel Book Shop, 1966); Words for Each Other (London: Rapp & Caroll, 1967); For Granted (New Rochelle, New York, 1967);  No Less (New Rochelle, New York: Elizabeth Press, 1968); Hearth (Kyoto, Japan: Origin Press, 1968); The World as University (Kyoto, Japan: Origin Press, 1968);  & Without End (New Rochelle, Elizabeth Press, 1968); No More (New Rochelle, New York: Elizabeth Press, 1969); Plight (New Rochelle, New York: Elizabeth Press, 1969); For Keeps (Kyoto, Japan: Origin Press, 1970); Livingdying (New York: New Directions, 1970); Night (New Rochelle, New York: Elizabeth Press, 1970); Of the Breath Of (San Francisco: Cranium Press, 1970; For Now (Kyoto, Japan: Origin Press, 1971); Cicadas (Slow Loris Press, 1971); Out and Out (New Rochelle, New York: Elizabeth Press, 1972); Be Quest (New Rochelle, New York: Elizabeth Press, 1972); A Language without Words (Arkesden, Affron Walden, Essex, England: Byways 6, 1972); Poems: Thanks to Zuckerkandl (Rushden, Northamptonshire, England: Sceptre Press, 1973); Three Poems (Rushden, Northhamptonshire, England: Sceptre Press, 1973); So Far (New Rochelle, New York: Elizabeth Press, 1973); All in All (New Rochelle, New York: Elizabeth Press, 1974); O/l (New Rochelle, New York: Elizabeth Press, 1974); Yet (New Rochelle, New York: Elizabeth Press, 1974); RSVP (Knotting, Bedfordshire, England: Sceptre Press, 1974); For Dear Life (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1975); Unless (Kyoto, Japan: Origin Press, 1975); Once and For All: Poems for William Bronk (New Rochelle, New York: Elizabeth Press, 1975); Not Now (Nailsworth, England: Moschatel Press, 1975); For the Asking (Santa Barbara, California: Black Sparrow Press, 1976); For Dear Life (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1975); Any How (Kisetsusha, 1976); ‘S (New Rochelle, New York: Elizabeth Press, 1976); Be Longings (Boston: Origin Press, 1977); Gratis (Boston: Origin Press, 1977); Antics (Boston: Origin Press, 1977); Of Course (Boston: Origin Press, 1978); So (Boston: Origin Press, 1978); Auspices (Milwaukee: Pentagram Press, 1979); At Their Word (Santa Barbara, California: Black Sparrow Press, 1978); In the Event (Bangor, Maine: Theodore Press, 1979); At Least (Fort Kent, Maine: Great Raven Press, 1979); Tabernacle (Boston: Origin Press, 1980); Manna (West Branch, Iowa: Toothpaste Press, 1981); I dent it ties (Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts: Salt-Work Press, 1981); At Least (2) (Iowa City: Corycian Press, 1981); Tu (West Branch, Iowa: Toothpaste Press, 1983); Aegis: Selected Poems, 1970-1980 (Barrytown, New York: Station Hill Press, 1983); At a Loss: Twenty Poems (Brattleboro, Vermont, Longhouse, 1984); One Man’s Room: 50 Haiku (Frankfort, Kentucky, 1984; reprinted 2003); In Particular: Poems, New and Selected (Dunvegan, Ontario, Canada: Cormorant Books, 1986); For Jim (New Rochelle, New York, 1986); Root Song (Elmwood, Connecticut: Potes & Poets Press, 1986); And the Word: Poems (Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1987); No News (Tokyo: Tels Press, 1987); Yea (Los Angeles: Lapis Press, 1989); Of (two volumes) (Venice, California: Lapis Press, 1990); Little Enough: 49 Haiku (Frankfort, Kentucky: Gnomon Press, 1991); How Now: Poems (Colorado: Cityful Press, 1995);  Tributary: Poems, ed. by Philippe Briet (New York: Edgewise Press, 1996); Nothing At All (Brooklyn: MEB, 1999); Nothing Doing (New York: New Directions, 1999); After Sengai (Harper Woods, Michigan: Persimmon Press, 1998); The Despairs (Mena, Arkansas: Cedar Hill Publications, 2001); Just for Now (Eugene, Oregon: Mountains and Rivers Press, 2001); For Crying Out Loud (Eugene, Oregon: Mountains and Rivers Press, 2002); The Next One Thousand Years: The Selected Poems of Cid Corman (Guilford, Vermont: Longhouse, 2008)

For a selection of Corman’s final poems and others, go here:

To hear Corman reading his works, visit the link below:

1 comment:

William Keckler said...

I enjoyed reading this, Doug. I've liked his poetry for a long time but have only recently got around to searching out some of the other books. I can see by the closing bibliography that I have a huge number to acquire still. Was rereading Faas's controversial Creeley bio and a little horrified at how C.C. was discussed (and manipulated) by the (admittedly very young) Bright Young Things like Creeley and Olson. Some of the letters between those two are so brutal as to be funny, but only because of how cringeworthy the behavior really was. But then they thought C.C. was a fuddy-duddy, ultimately, I suppose. He wasn't about the field poem or the discursive or any of the other exciting new developments. He was trapped in the old eternal verities and quite happy to be there. Something like that, I think. Weird to think if Creeley's abortive journal to which you allude had materialized, Lititz, Pennsylvania (just down the pike from here) might be remembered for something other than parochial Pennsylvania foods and confectionaries. Creeley rode Corman like a horse and Corman was a gentleman about it (Origin). What a great human being Cid was. And I know I responded by air mail to every young poet who wrote to him. So many of my friends were in regular correspondence. He was a bit of a bodhisattva, I think. Thanks for this and other gleanings on other entries here. (Oh, typos noted: "eschewed (any)" for "eschewed no" and the part about translating Celan...something there is off too? Don't think me an ingrate for mentioning those. Just thought I'd say in case you or someone edits this. I'm in awe of how much you get done (and the movie reviews too!) You're clearly not slowing down a bit. If you have an essence, please bottle it and send it my way. mes amities.