Saturday, October 18, 2008
Kyoto, end of April, 1989
One of the reasons I have posted this photo, taken by Emi Tsutsumi, of Cid Corman and me in Kyoto, is to add a possible footnote to a footnote in some future literary history or Ph.D. dissertation. In letters sent by Cid to Louise Landes Levi and published by Bob Arnold in one of the posthumous issues of ORIGIN, Cid had criticized me, and had warned this particular correspondent off meeting me. Cid said, sort of, that I am no southern gentleman, so to speak. Which I admit is true. He did put me in good company (Ian Hamilton Finlay, Clayton Eshleman) in another missive dissing all three of us together to Ms. Levi, (in a different context), and although I am sure it is not the only time I have been dissed behind my back in a letter to someone, I would like to explain the circumstances. Unfortunately, Arnold rejected all of the work I had sent him for the final issue(s) of ORIGIN he had edited, though that may have had nothing to do with Cid's correspondence. (Further explications are in letters from Cid to me housed in Ann Arbor at the U. of Michigan. Cid had actually asked/encouraged me to sell these letters so that we could split some of the profits. Which I was glad to do. Other letters from Cid are housed with much of my other archival materials at Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection, Yale U. Many of his letters (over 50 as I recall) dating from his first letter to me (in the early 1970's, sent to South London, where I was living at that time, and commenting favorably on a poem of mine published by Peter Finch in SECOND AEON (and extraordinarily self-effacingly (and shyly?) introducing himself) sadly have been lost or otherwise disposed of by The Archive of the Indies, Seville, in an unfortunate, albeit Romantic, misunderstaning.) What had happened to cause Cid's consternation and a break in our correspondence (one of two such breaks over many years) was, in this instance, I grew wearily annoyed at his outright continued dismissal(s) of poets included in THE NEW BRITISH POETRY, 1968-'88 (Palladin,1989), specifically in part III of the anthology, edited by Eric Mottram (section titled "A Trecherous Assault On British Poetry") and also the poets chosen by Ken Edwards in the "Some Younger Poets" section. Cid stubbornly refused to admit the authenticity and worth of British poets who were my colleagues and in some instances, friends. Except for Asa Benveniste, and David Miller, both of whom I had put in touch with Cid and who were in correspondence with him, he refused in what I thought was a high-handed manner to value the work of Paul Evans, Allen Fisher, Bill Griffiths, Tom Raworth, Iain Sinclair, and others included in those two sections of the anthology. Obviously, he excluded his friend Gael Turnbull, and also, as I recall, Roy Fisher, from his disdain. I had had enough and admittedly flew off the handle and sent him a rather nasty lettter saying how I felt about his attitude. I think it was a year, perhaps more, before our correspondence resumed. In the end, Cid was always a forgiving soul. And it was a rare privilege to finally meet him and, briefly, Shizumi, in Kyoto, after fifteen years of correspondence.