Cid Corman was raised in Dorchester, Boston by Ukrainian parents. He attended Boston Latin, the oldest and one of the best public schools in the country, and Tufts University. He later spent some time studying at the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina, and the Sorbonne, but he did not earn a degree at any of these schools. Instead, he devoted his time to writing and promoting poetry.
Corman started the country’s first poetry radio program in 1948 and, in 1951, the magazine Origin. Origin would remain active until the 1980s; the affiliated Origin Press remains active today. He used these platforms to promote the Beats, the Black Mountain poets, and the Objectivists, although his own work remained distinct from these movements.
In 1958, Corman moved to Kyoto, Japan to take a teaching job. Here he became acquainted with the poetry of Basho and Shimpei, as well as with his future wife, the TV news editor Konishi Shizumi. Corman never gained fluency in Japanese, but his co-translations of Basho are considered among the most tonally accurate in the English language. He also worked on well-received translations of classical Chinese and contemporary French poetry.
Corman remained in Kyoto, running a western-style coffee shop called C.C.’s with his wife, until his death in 2004.