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Friday, October 06, 2006

There's Only One Poem This is It - The Challenge of Cid Corman

Dead Beat on a visit to Kyoto some years back with his great friend, Gregory Dunne, paid a visit to the seminal poet Cid Corman. Greg brought D. B. to Cid's house where he met the man himself and saw in Cid's office the lifetime of his work, sheet upon sheet.

Now in case you don't know, Cid published anyone who is anyone, and if you don't know that, well shame on you.

Okay a few details I borrowed:

Cid Corman, b. 1924, was born in Boston, and received his B.A. from Tufts. He did graduate work at the University of Michigan, where he won the Hopwood Award for Poetry, and the University of North Carolina. Throughout the 1950's and 1960's Corman's magazine ORIGIN published some of the major works of the Black Mountain poets, as well as other important work, choosing mostly poems not yet readily available elsewhere: the early poetry "A hint or tint ofmusic - as if the silence were being turned on." of Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and Denise Levertov with the late works of Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams. He carried on a fascinating correspondence with Stevens, who greatly respected what Origin was doing. Corman published over seventy volumes of poetry, translated several French and Japanese poets, and published four volumes of essays. He lived in Kyoto, Japan since 1958 where he and his wife ran a business, Cid Corman's Dessert Shop. Corman is one of "late" modernism's most significant enablers, a poet of talent himself, and a master of "production" -- whose work, both as poet and publisher, is intertwined with the Objectivists Zukofsky and Oppen, as well as Creeley and Olson. Among those poetic colleagues and many younger poets worldwide, Corman's verse is perhaps the most committed to the sublime, refusing the temptation of "effect" for the tactile ink of line and "touch." His collection Nothing Doing is full of poetry of cognitive conundrum, but also of uncompromising wisdom, where Corman can definitively declare: "There's only / one poem: / this is it."

Dead Beat has a bunch of Corman's works but most importantly he walked with him that noon in Kyoto when Corman promised to share correspondance for ever if Dead Beat was up to the challenge and sad to say, Dead Beat was not.

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