Cid Corman, poet, editor of Origin, passed away in 2004. Donations in Cid's memory are being accepted via paypal or by checks made out to and sent to Bob Arnold at Bob Arnold, Longhouse, Publishers & Booksellers. This money will go via Chuck Sandy to Shizumi Corman, easily and quickly.
Donations of cash or funds sent via wire transfer can also be made. If these options are easier for you, please contact Chuck Sandy at or Bob Arnold at

Regarding ORIGIN contact:
Susan & Bob Arnold
Longhouse Publishers & Booksellers
1604 River Road
Guilford, Vermont 05301
Tel. 802-254-4242


Today, as the news continue to speak of the quake and the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima that is causing so much suffering in Japan, and no doubt will continue to do so, in that country and beyond it, I have read again, carefully, a letter Cid Corman wrote  in early 1995.

He speaks about the earthquake in Kobe, a town not far away from Kyoto where he lived for so many years…

“...the quake. It scared us shitless – to put it bluntly. Poor Shizumi still goes to bed – a fortnight later – with a satchel full of necessities  beside her.  […] The issue in Kobe  – as in every natural catastrophe (the floods in yr lowlands now) […] – is not to level blame at people, etc., but to help in every way possible AT ONCE, learn from the event whatever can be learned, and prepare better. Floods are an ancient commonplace, but what country/people has ever spent as much on floodcontrol as on military outlays? The pre-Columbian inhabitants of Mexico City did better than we today. And there are signs of the same in ancient Mesopotamia […]”

Isn’t that to the point? Not to BLAME, but to CHANGE THINGS, learn FROM THE PAST, for the sake of THE FUTURE?

Cid wanted it, believed in it, lived like that – and was still pessimistic. Would man, would mankind, the oi polloi, the masses LEARN ? even if you and me, this and that individual would learn from past mistakes, from terrible shortsightedness, the fact that patently WRONG CHOICES had been made?

O yes, it’s essential that we all learn. Everyone of us. Civil society, as they say today. 

We know that to place nuclear power plants in regions where big quakes are likely is madness.
We know that for seventeen years, Tokyo Electric falsified reports of safety checks, that it failed to check whether emergency equipment that might be needed to generate electricity for the cooling system would work properly.

We know the barriers that were intended to protect the Fukushima nuclear power plant from the effect of tsunamis were inadequate. 
We know the reactor type was deficient from the beginning, and designed like that for reasons of so-called cost-effectiveness.

We know the same concern for “cost-effectiveness” caused the partial meltdown in Harrisburg. The authorities had been warned ahead of the castastrophe that an accident was likely. 

We know that a safety measure that would have cost BP an additional 500,000 US-$ would have made it much more unlikely that the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico would have happened.

We know or could know about this engrained tendency of private corporations and bureaucracies to work together, create a business-friendly “investment climate” that shifts the risks on the shoulders of people generally and the environment.

But what do we learn from it? 
What action do we take?
How do we change the way things are done?

At the time Cid wrote, the tragedy in Yugoslavia was on our minds.
Today, the tragedy in Gaza is still vividly remembered. And what about the suffering in the Congo, Colombia, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Bahrain, in Yemen, in the West Bank? …to single out only the most blatant examples.

No, let’s not concentrate on BLAMING people.
Let’s ask, What can we learn? How can we change things? How do we want to proceed?

In 1995, Cid saw it all as part of the human predicament, something that baffled him, that he rejected, and that still seemed such a repeated and almost inescapable fact:

“[…] why people who have lived as neighbors so many years suddenly feel it their duty to KILL their neighbors baffles me. All they do  is deepen rifts for ensuing generations and guarantee more needless killing.

But this is the oldest of human stories – no doubt earlier than killing animals for food. Who but man – godlike man (to cite Homer)(of his best men yet!) – wd breed animals in ORDER to kill and eat them! For this we need intelligence? Pandas long since – China the most communist utopian-idealistic nation – have evidently taken too much space up in the vastest of lands! And if they are to live must live in zoos. One day our great machines will create an Eden menagerie for the remaining human beings. That is, if human beings arent auto-destructed by then. AND the only planet that harbors or CD harbor life as we know it.

We are self-doomed in every sense. We neither know how to live with life NOR death.  And there is no true sign we ever will want to know. […]”

Yes, the pessimism is there, in us. The realization that throughout history some people have again and again warned or revolted against the self-destructiveness that is a part and a possibility present in man. And still, we know, the wheel of history has kept turning, the mill that squashes human bones…

And still there is hope, isn’t it? Seasoned hope, conditioned, open-eyed, not blind to the contradictions and difficulties, the obstacles:

“Best NOT to generalize about people. Yes, there are cultures, conventions, habits, prejudices, more than enough native stupidity everywhere for everyone. But far more ALIVE and TRUE to face each other and oneself openly and honestly and fully as our paths cross or we bring ourselves to make them cross. Often I have found, sadly, that those who are eager to help people in other countries – with money and/or goods or even work/presences – are incapable of knowing their own neighbors or even family members.”

Cid Corman whom I remember as I hear the news of the quake in Japan and as I read, again, his letter speaking of the quake in Kobe, was a tender person, I know. He was also, like myself, like many of us, a poet who always had trouble to make ends meet. And who didn’t complain, but thought about giving. And was giving. Attention, love, his poetry.

Remembering him, I turn again to his words. That living, from the very first moment, is livingdying. And that we are at home and not at home, from the beginning: everywhere, on earth. A fleeting presence.

“I share yr feeling about all people: I have NEVER turned away from ANYONE for reason of color, race, religion, etc and never will. Against my nature. And of course I feel at home amongst the poor, having never been anything else, and very nearly ‘homeless’ except that for me EARTH is home and so I never can be homeless AS LONG AS I LIVE or the work I have managed lives. And living means livingdying. […]”

- Andreas Weiland

(Quotes from a letter by Cid Corman, 1st  February 1995)



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