For Cid

by Robert Creeley

Hard to recall a world without Cid, either then or now. It was Vincent Ferrini who connected us, although I had known of his radio program out of Boston, This is Poetry, and had happily got invited But it’s with Origin that it all comes together, and I’d count the second issue as my first real instance of being writer in common world.

There was as well a workaday world aspect to Cid which reassured me, an evidence neither one of us thought to cover. It wasn’t being tough, it was a fact of given life—in this case, echoes of the Depression and the haves and have-nots it defined Cid’s dogged achievements in college were, perhaps, driven by that fact of where he had come from—as myself from small town West Acton, Mass where my single parent mother’s job was town nurse. We each made our own way into the world and Cid’s certainly took him far from Roxbury and Jones Avenue. But those left knew him as he did them, and it’s a fact I honor.

Once Cid (and myself likewise) got to Europe, things necessarily changed. I don’t think I saw him more than a couple of times when we were both living in France, for example. I recall seeing him once in Paris where he had reportedly been living in a cellar flat without windows, using the money so saved from his Fulbright to keep origin afloat. I had friend Alex Trocchi with me, and Cid was clear, later, that he did not find Alex such as he’d think of as my friend. Alex in like sense found Cid parochial and a bore. They were certainly not “like” one another.

In fact, Cid was not really like anyone much at all, in that sense—nor was Alex. I think Cid’s seriousness was insistent, his will to realize a possibility—origin—his determination to effect a possibility in poetry then, which few had stomach to attempt. It’s no coincidence that W. C. Williams publishes “The Desert Music” in origin and proves a very particular friend of Cid’s in correspondence as Cid is likewise for him. The same is true of Cid’s relation to Lorine Neidecker, and to Zukofsky—and, presumably, to Josef Albers and to Sam Francis. And to many others of us as myself.

I last had company with him in Kyoto in 1976 and almost missed that chance because I was on a State Department sponsored tour of nine countries. Thankfully the US was not at war with anyone just then, but I agree it’s a poor relation at best. So Cid rightly questioned what I was doing (and all concerned can find my general comment at the end of a collection written then, Hello). But thankfully I persuaded him to let me pick him up with the car I had use of, and so we had chance to talk and for him to show me a few sights. Sadly our lives had moved too much apart with our families and commitments to be easily brought back actively together. But I know he counted on me as a friend, which I was, as I did upon his own goodwill and assurance.

I guess the rest then is what one calls “literature,” and that has to be another business entirely. I love it that Cid got to write more poems than any other poet in the language, probably in any language—some 80,000 plus still unpublished. Back then it was all like building a world brick by brick and it now brings tears to the eyes, recalling how desperate and determined we were and seemingly had to be. What is it Pound translates Kung as saying? “Only the most absolute sincerity under heaven can effect any change.” In any case, we were such as so believed, and Cid perhaps the most committed among us, who worked ceaselessly to realize the possibilities of a poetry so found.

 Waldoboro, Maine
August 22, 2002