THE END OF ORIGIN
INTRODUCTION — For many artists there stands an iconic figure that embodies the fruition of our own dreams and goals, a person who exemplifies our best intentions to lead a creative and meaningful life. In many ways, this is how I came to view Cid Corman over the years after meeting him in 1995, in Boulder, Colorado. The more I would come to know Cid, through his life story and his writing, the more I would find him to be the kind of man I hoped I would be someday – prolific in his art, contemplative, connected, happy.
Cid was taking part in several lectures that were a part of the annual Writing Program at Naropa University that summer. The root of Cid's sincerity, I gathered, was poetry. He lived it, he breathed it, he glowed from it. After the program ended and I resumed my studies at the University of Iowa, I began reading Cid's poetry as fast as I could get it.
The more I read, the more I learned Cid was everything a contemporary poet could be: poetically nimble, energetic about community, and focused. Every word in every book was so concise as to say exactly what he meant. He had a rare talent for connecting the whisper of Man's wonder and Nature's awesome display in a single line. In what had fast become an era saturated with performance poetry, I sank into his work whenever I could.
With scores of books and essays and collaborations under his belt, it was not difficult to find Cid's work. It wasn't long before I came upon Origin, a sizeable and frequent publication founded by Cid in 1951 and published regularly (with short intervals when it was not in print) for more than three decades.
In that time, Origin, with Cid as its editor, published so many of our greatest contemporary writers and artists – at times debuting their work – that to delve into its pages is nothing less than an education in contemporary poetics.
Alas, the publication of Origin, Sixth Series in 2007, was its last. Built upon a very spare outline drafted by Cid in 2003 shortly before his passing in March 2004, which included only a handful of artists, ORIGIN, Sixth Series was compiled and published by Cid's literary executor and long-time friend Bob Arnold. The complete series now totals five issues, 1700 pages, and includes 200 contributors. Bob and his wife Susan own and operate Longhouse Publishers and Booksellers in southern Vermont. Together, they assembled and published ORIGIN, Sixth Series online last spring — available exclusively at www.LongHousePoetry.com.
In his introduction to the first of four books, Bob Arnold writes: “To avoid confusion amongst the purists, we are making ORIGIN , Sixth Series a tribute to Cid Corman. No one in his right mind is attempting to do Origin the way Cid would. Impossible … [This] is the very last of Origin, ever. A small part of this quartet had Cid Corman's personal touch – in particular, the feature poets chosen – but not enough to make any issue hold water … So a new feature was selected to shape this quartet … After Cid's passing, poets were gathered as more a celebration to poetry and for Cid. It has became a leafy canopy of many poets from around the world – ancients to the remarkably young.”
In addition to this remarkable final edition of Origin , Bob Arnold and Ce Rosenow have recently completed Cid's Selected Poems – due out from Longhouse this spring.
To give you an idea of the scope of the project, Cid's poetry spans fifty-plus years and more than 100 books, some of which had short print runs.
In a 1996 interview published in The Kyoto Journal, after a small review of his voluminous collection “Of” was published by Lapis Press, Cid was asked how he felt about being “one of America's best kept secrets.”
Corman responded, “There are plenty of people who know of my work … I believe the work speaks more clearly to ALL than any other poetry of our time … My poems invariably address themselves to people of all ages, creeds, countries, and times (even the dead) & invariably probe human nature to the root (to the ground of being it comes from).”
Poetry is that which surrounds the root matter of all of us – Cid's root matter more than others. He revealed himself to us through poetry, his friendships, his gifted ability for editing, and his will to be alive in every moment. He was never short on encouragement of others to place poetry at the origin of their own lives.
Cid never sought fame for his efforts. Rather, payment repeatedly arrived in the form of new poems and a renewed connection to that which connects us all, our community, our humanity, and the wonder of it all.
In the following pages we are very proud and honored to present a small segment of Origin: Sixth Series including work by Cid Corman, Bob Arnold, Robert Creeley, and Shizumi Corman. These are few among many that have contributed to Origin's final issue, a collection of writers and artists whose lives have been touched by one very special man.
– Benjamin Spencer