Cid Corman papers
Scope and Contents
Material is entirely from 1963. Letters are from family members and from fellow poets, as well as other friends. The typescripts of Year One with holograph changes comprise 282 pages of unpublished material.
- Corman, Cid, 1924-2004 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Open for research without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
For permission to publish materials, contact: Special Collections & Archives Middlebury College Phone: (802) 443-2387 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
The Cid Corman Papers consist of correspondence to the poet/publisher from friends and family, exclusively from the year 1963. The collection also has the manuscripts for the unpublished Year One, a book of excerpts from Corman’s 1963 letters. The materials represent “a year in the life” of Cid Corman while in Japan, a year in which, Corman observes, “time becomes confused, seasons bury themselves in one another, children adults and the dead merge. The past becomes a future in terms of a more remote reference and the future becomes past before you. And if it lives and if it coheres, in a general incoherence that never quite leaves off, all time is illimitably present – i.e. a rhythm” (Year One “Statement of purpose”).
The materials are arranged in two series. Series I consists of correspondence from l963, arranged alphabetically by sender. Series II is comprised of three unpublished manuscripts, Year One Volumes 1, 2, and 3.
Other Finding Aids
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The correspondence of Robert Buckeye, Special Collections Librarian and College Archivist, Emeritus, with Cid Corman in 1987 indicates that, “We did purchase the Year One manuscript.” There is no reference to the letters of the same year, but Mr. Buckeye states that the letters came along with the purchased manuscript. Cid Corman was, from about 1980 onwards, strongly urging the purchase by libraries of his manuscripts and correspondence.