Biographical / Historical
Sydney Corman was born June 29, 1924 in Boston, Mass., where his father was a doctor. He attended Boston Latin School before matriculating as an undergraduate at Tufts University, where he earned admission to Phi Beta Kappa, and wrote his first poetry. He went on to graduate study at the University of Michigan, University of North Carolina (1947) and the Sorbonne, Paris, 1954-55.
Corman was one of the first to use radio as a conveyance for poems, creating the first American poetry radio program on WMEX in Boston, 1949-1951. He founded the literary quarterly, Origins, wherein he published several of the Black Mountain poets: Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and Robert Duncan. In 1956, Sydney Corman, now known as “Cid,” began publishing volumes of poetry under Origin Press, which he owned and ran for nearly fifty years. There he published the poetry of Eigner, Bronk, Enslin, Niedecker, Zukofsky and Snyder. In 1958 he secured a teaching position at Ryukoto University in Kyoto, Japan. After a two-year hiatus in the U.S., he returned to Japan in 1962 and married Konishi Shizumi. He soon began translating Japanese poetry.
Over his life, he published seventy volumes of poetry, four books of essays, and several translations of French and Japanese poetry. Although he never learned to speak Japanese, it is said that his translations of Basho are among the most accurate in tone in the English language. In 1970, New Directions published his well-known SunRockMan and livingdying.
Cid Corman was a poet, essayist, translator, editor and teacher. Taguchi Tetsuya said, “Kyoto became a center of American poetry because of his presence.” “Cid’s poetry is marked by an elegant touch, deep image and subtle word twistage,” says Kyoto Journal 31 (1996).
From 1970 to 1982, the Cormans lived in Boston, but returned to Japan once again, where they ran CC’s Coffee Shop in Kyoto. Cid Corman died after a brief illness on March 12, 2004.