Monday, October 15, 2012


Almost 100 years ago William Carlos Williams said aloud, "A bad poem is full of English literature".

And these days, Poetry Magazine (Chicago) continues to produce a quite usual English literature. They are capable of publishing many fine poets, but it is all presented through a narrow sieve, despite their riches and funding.

Most recently comes The Open Door (which it isn't), edited by Don Share and Christian Wiman. It is showcased as "100 poems, 100 years of Poetry Magazine". Basil Bunting to Jack Spicer, not bad. Gwendolyn Brooks to Lorine Niedecker, yeah! One poem each. Quenched. Severe. Static. So what. But certainly not terrible. Statuesque in a small way. Little juice.

It's embarrassing how badly made the contributors' notes can be, and this from the Poetry Foundation gods:

Lorine Niedecker: "Although her long correspondence with Louis Zukofsky, who frequently published her poems in his journal, Origins, brought her some critical notice. . ."

Niedecker had a correspondence with Zukofsky, but in this case it is Cid Corman that is being referred to here, and it isn't "Origins" as every poet knows, but Cid's magazine and press Origin.

Cid Corman: "The first two volumes of his selected poems, Of (1990) contain nearly 1,500 poems. Corman spent many years in Japan."

Of is not Cid Corman's selected poems, but three published volumes (of a proposed five volumes) of original poems, many unpublished until these glorious handmade volumes appeared. Cid's selected poems is The Next One Thousand Years, edited by Ce Rosenow and Bob Arnold (Longhouse), one of many to come of this poet's selected poems from a vast field of poetry.

Cid didn't spend many years in Japan — he lived decades in Japan, with his Japanese wife Shizumi, in a very modest abode in Kyoto where he translated many of the finest Japanese poets and poems ever seen. That's all.

How in the world are we to support already little known, or at the very least quiet, backwater poets, when they are misrepresented this way?

From "Cahoots"
by Cid Corman

There wasnt space
for two to pass
at one moment

and that moment
at Potniae.
Fate had spoken

And Fate followed
through at the cost
of the Other.

It takes a life
time's blindness to
see one's father.

. . .

The way one

the slow low

twang of an
way she to

whom I smile
returns the
smile: the way.

. . .

To come out
after a
long day's work

into snow—
the latest
version of

and all so
light and crisp—

as if we're
the candles
on the cake.

February 1983

THE 1% ~