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Cid Corman Papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MS-MS-ms030

Includes correspondence of Cid Corman and Henry Wenning, 1962-1964, with 31 letters written by Corman, and 5 by Wenning [carbon only]. The letters discuss prospective business arrangements for distribution in the United States of Origin Press materials and other books, as well as personal affairs and observations of life in Kyoto, Japan. Arrangements center largely around possible purchase by Wenning and James Lowell of 50 bound volumes of Origin, second series. Corman relates early personal experiences and impressions of the periodical's first series and discusses the writing careers of many of his contemporaries including Louis Zukofsky, Robert Creeley, Samuel Beckett, and Ted Enslin.


  • Creation: 1962-1964


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1 boxes

36.00 items

Biographical Information

Cid (Sidney) Corman (June 29, 1924 – March 12, 2004) was an American poet, translator and editor, most notably of Origin, who was a key figure in the history of American poetry in the second half of the 20th century.  Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Corman was an avid reader and showed an aptitude for drawing and calligraphy from an early age. He attended Boston Latin School and in 1941 he entered Tufts University, where he achieved Phi Beta Kappa honors and wrote his first poems. He was excused from service in World War II for medical reasons and graduated in 1945.  Corman studied for his Master's degree at the University of Michigan, where he won the Hopwood poetry award, but dropped out when two credits short of completion. After a brief stint at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he spent some time travelling around the United States, returning to Boston in 1948.

In Boston, Corman ran poetry events in public libraries and, with the help of his high-school friend Nat Hentoff, he started the country's first poetry radio program, This Is Poetry, from WMEX. The program featured readings by Robert Creeley, Stephen Spender, Theodore Roethke and many other Boston-based and visiting poets. He also spent some time at the Yaddo artists' retreat in Saratoga Springs. It was about this time that Corman changed his name from Sydney Corman to the simpler "Cid." During this period, Corman was writing prolifically and published in excess of 500 poems in about 100 magazines by 1954. He considered this to be a kind of apprenticeship, and none of these poems were ever published in book form.

In 1951, Corman began Origin in response to the failure of a magazine that Creeley had planned. The magazine typically featured one writer per issue and ran, with breaks, until the mid-1980s. Poets featured included Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Larry Eigner, Denise Levertov, William Bronk, Theodore Enslin, Charles Olson, Louis Zukofsky, Gary Snyder, Lorine Niedecker, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Paul Blackburn and Frank Samperi. 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 remains currently active.

In 1954, Corman won a Fulbright Fellowship grant and moved to France, where he studied for a time at the Sorbonne. He then moved to Italy to teach English in a small town called 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 (1962). He also experimented with oral poetry, recording improvised poems on tape. In 1958, Corman got a teaching job in Kyoto, Japan. Here he continued to write and to run Origin.

Corman has been associated with the Beats, Black Mountain poets and Objectivists, mainly through his championing as an editor, publisher and critic. However, he remained independent of all groups and fashions throughout his career. He 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. Several collections of wide-ranging essays have been published. His translations (or co-translations) include Bashō's Back Roads to Far Towns, Things by Francis Ponge, poems by Paul Celan and collections of haiku.

Source of Acquisition

Accession number 1193. Purchase from Henry Wenning, May 11, 1970

Processing Information

Processed July 1970 by Holly Hall

Cid Corman Papers
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Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 February 17: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Manuscripts Collecting Area

Joel Minor
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495