Cid Corman

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Cid Corman (1924–2004) was an American poet, editor and translator. he was born the son of Ukrainian immigrants in the Roxbury district of Boston, and grew up in nearby Dorchester. Excused military service on medical grounds, he graduated from Tufts University in 1945. After dropping out of a Master's degree at Michigan University, he travelled the United States before returning to Boston, where he co-founded the country's first poetry radio programme. In 1951 he founded Origin, which was to become one of the seminal post-war poetry magazines, starting it because a similar venture by Robert Creeley had failed to get off the ground. (Creeley already had his Divers Press at that time.) Origin was to feature many poets who were to become key figures in what was to become known as The New American Poetry, after the Donald Allen anthology of that name.

The magazine also led to the establishment of Origin Press, which published books by a similar range of poets as well as by Corman himself and which remained active under Corman's editorship up until his death. In 1954, Corman won a Fulbright Fellowship grant and moved to France, where he studied at the Sorbonne. Thereafter he moved to Italy and taught English in Matera. By this time, Corman had published a number of small books, but his Italian experiences were to provide the materials for his first major work, Sun Rock Man (New Directions, 1962).

In 1958, Corman obtained a teaching post in Kyoto thanks to Will Petersen. Here he continued to write and to run Origin and in 1959 he published Gary Snyder's first book, Riprap. He remained in Japan until 1960, when he returned to the USA for two years. Back in Japan he married Konishi Shizumi, a Japanese TV news editor. Corman began to translate Japanese poetry, particularly work by Basho and Kusano Shimpei. The Cormans spent the years 1970 to 1982 in Boston, where they unsuccessfully tried to establish a number of small businesses. They returned to Kyoto, where they remained for the remainder of Cid's life.

Cid Corman was a prolific poet until his final illness, publishing more than 100 books and pamphlets. In 1990, he published the first two volumes of his selected poems, OF, running to some 1500 poems. Volume 3, with a further 750 poems, appeared in 1998 and two further volumes were planned. His essays have been collected in a number of volumes. His translations include Basho's Back Roads to Far Towns, Things by Francis Ponge, poems by Paul Celan and a number of collections of haiku. His correspondence with Charles Olson was edited by George Evans and published by Black Sparrow Press.

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