Cid Corman

[excerpt from Steve Clay and Rodney Phillips’ A SECRET LOCATION ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE. Granary Books, 1998]

Around 1950, while living in New Hampshire, Robert Creeley abandoned plans for his yet-to-be-launched little magazine. Among the material he had already gathered was work from poet Cid Corman, who was then hosting a weekly radio show in Boston entitled “This Is Poetry.”

Corman expressed his disappointment over the loss of the magazine to a listener, one Evelyn Shoolman, who responded by offering to back Corman in a magazine of his own if he wished. Thus began Origin: A Quarterly for the Creative. Material gathered by Creeley along with work brought in by Corman helped to establish, in Creeley’s words, “a Place defined by our own activity.”

The first issue featured a major section of work by Charles Olson, then barely published, and established the presence of an important magazine for new writing. As Olson wrote to Corman, Origin gave him “the fullest satisfaction i have ever had from print, lad, the fullest. And i am so damned moved by yr push, pertinence, accuracy, taste, that it is wholly inadequate to say thanks.”

The second issue featured Robert Creeley. Origin published a wide range of writers working in poetry and prose—contributions to the first series of issues included work by Paul Blackburn, Robert Duncan, Ed Dorn, Margaret Avison, Denise Levertov, Theodore Enslin, Larry Eigner, Irving Layton, William Bronk, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, and Gael Turnbull, and translations of Antonin Artaud, Gottfried Benn, Federico García Lorca, Henri Michaux, and Giuseppe Ungaretti, among many others.

The possibilities for writing explored and enacted in the pages of Origin exerted considerable influence in the postwar literary scene—indeed, as Paul Blackburn wrote in the early 1960s, “Origin and The Black Mountain Review: What other solid ground was there in the last decade?”

— Steve Clay and Rodney Phillips in A SECRET LOCATION ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE (Granary Books, 1998)

1. ORIGIN, No. I, edited by Cid Corman
Dorchester: Origin, Spring 1951
Contributors: Charles Olson, Paul Verrier, Samuel French Morse, Vincent Ferrini, Gaius Valerius Catullus, William Bronk, William Carlos Williams, Katherine Hoskins, Richard Wirtz Emerson, Constance Hatson, Robert Creeley, Richard Eberhart.

2. ORIGIN, No. II, edited by Cid Corman
Dorchester: Origin, Summer 1951
Contributors: Robert Creeley, Cid Corman, Paul Verrier, Paul Blackburn, Charles Olson, Denise Levertov, Katherine Hoskins, Stuart Z Perkoff,

3. ORIGIN, No. III, edited by Cid Corman
Dorchester: Origin, Fall 1951
Contributors: William Bronk, Charles Olson, Richard Wilbur, Constance E. Hatson, Samuel French Morse, Robert Creeley, Dick Boyce, Harry Smith.

4. ORIGIN, No. IV, edited by Cid Corman
Dorchester: Origin, Winter 1951-1952
Contributors: Rainer M. Gerhardt, Paul Verrier, Paul Blackburn, Franco Neri, Klaus Bremer, Nemi D’Agostino, Philippe Thoby-Marcelin, Charles Olson, Cid Corman, James Merrill, Robert Creeley.