Letters to Cid Corman


Dear Cid,

Well, I've reached bottom - I've lost another job but this time Welfare has me - What can I do?
4 years ago I was bringing in $36 a week - should've been on Welfare then, but no! I'm breaking under all this financial stress - yet I've continued to write - just finished a little prose work
(30 pages) Anti-Hero.... but I'm burdening you with my troubles -


I have a strong desire to know, but it is now certain that I'll never know the name of my father. I've never condemned my mother and father - true The Trinity is full enough to take the place of dead parents but I've always seen them as justified lovers despite conventions. I must be improving: years ago the circumstances of my birth could only be whispered. -


Well, I finally came up with a title for the 110 page book: Quadrifarium.
I'm grateful to you for allowing correspondence to take place: your letters are looked for here. You are obviously a man who holds no grudges.
Will wrote me that he's going to send The Prefiguration to Sackheim - hope Sackheim likes the work: I need a publication that'll show me to advantage. Space is important in my work: that is, I've wondered why this preoccupation with each poem a page to itself: does it stem from my fear of crowds? Also, the packed, condensed line (I understand Chinese, Japanese lines similar - of course, also, Virgil, Dante)...


You've, made me very happy - I've longed to see Morning & Evening printed since '66 - now it's done - I see it better now. Thank you for your concerned interest.


I can't believe you're writing an "essay" on The Prefiguration. Only last year I was pronounced a nervous wreck, and now this year a book and your kindness an essay.
The richness of The Prefiguration is implicit - proper names are kept at a minimum: Augustine is a figure, altho never mentioned by name: even so, simplicity is pursued as a desired end and complexity is rejected as confusion; therefore, the book is in opposition to the modern spirit, but is not out to eradicate it. -

Courtsey of The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.


  1. These excerpts are very nice to read, thank you Claudia.

    Maybe in the quoted line -- "Space is important in my work: that is, I've wondered why this preoccupation with each poem a page to itself: does it steam from my fear of crowds?" -- you meant to type "stem" for "steam"?

    I'll also say that Cid Corman's essay on The Prefiguration might be the best thing, still, that's been written on the writing of Frank Samperi. It sure has shown me a lot.

  2. Hi Steven,
    Thank you for noticing the typo. Where did you see the review on The Prefiguration that Cid wrote? Which year and month?


  3. Hi Claudia,

    Maybe the easiest place to find the Cid Corman write-up on The Prefiguration is in Corman's At Their Word / Essays On The Arts Of Language, Volume II (Black Sparrow Press, 1978). It's re-printed there, and comprises 14 total pages including the one-page appendix (that appendix is mostly Corman quoting a note he'd received from your father). All of it, the review and appendix) was originally published in the magazine Chicago Review, Vol. 25, No. 1 (1973).

  4. Hi again Claudia,

    If you'd like, I'd be happy to send you a pdf of the Cid Corman review/essay. Just send me an e-mail -- stevenfama(at)comcast(dot)net
    -- substituting in, of course, the standard symbols for such an address.


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