Robert Creeley

From Academic Kids

Robert Creeley (May 21, 1926 - March 30 2005) was an American poet, author of more than sixty books, and usually associated with the Black Mountain poets, though his verse aesthetic diverged from that school's. He was quite friendly with Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg, John Wieners. He taught for many years at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He lived in Waldoboro, Maine, Buffalo, New York and Providence, Rhode Island, where he taught at Brown University. He was a recipient of the Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.

He was born in Arlington, Massachusetts. He entered Harvard University in 1943, but left to serve in the American Field Service in Burma and India 1944-5. He returned to Harvard in 1946, but took his BA from Black Mountain College in 1955. An MA from the University of New Mexico followed in 1960. He began his academic career by teaching two semesters at Black Mountain, wandered about a bit, and then settled into the English faculty of "Black Mountain II" at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1967.

According to Arthur L. Ford in his book Robert Creeley (1978, p. 25), "Creeley has long been aware that he is part of a definable tradition in the American poetry of this century, -- so long as 'tradition' is thought of in general terms and so long as it recognizes crucial distinctions among its members. The tradition most visible to the general public has been the Eliot-Stevens tradition supported by the intellectual probings of the New Critics in the 1940s and early 1950s. Parallel to that tradition has been the tradition Creeley identifies with, the Pound-Olson-Zukofsky-Black Mountain tradition -- what M. L. Rosenthal [in his book The New Poets: American and British Poetry Since World War II (1967)] calls 'The Projectivist Movement'." This "movement" Rosenthal derives from Olson's essay on "Projective Verse.

Le Fou, Creeley's first book, was published in 1952, and since then, according to his publisher, barely a year passed without a new collection of poems. The 1983 entry, titled Mirrors, had some tendencies toward concrete imagery, but Creeley's greatest weakness was always vagueness and abstraction. It was hard for many readers and critics to understand Creeley's reputation as an innovative poet; even harder for some to imagine that his work lived up to the Black Mountain tenet -- which he is supposed to have articulated, -- that "form is never more than an extension of content," for his poems were often written in couplet, triplet, and quatrain stanzas that break into and out of rhyme as happenstance appears to dictate. An example is "The Hero," from Collected Poems, also published in 1982 and covering the span of years from 1945 to 1975.

"The Hero" is written in variable isoverbal ("word-count") prosody; the number of words per line varies from three to seven, but the norm is four to six. Another technique to be found in this piece is variable rhyme -- there is no set rhyme scheme, but some of the lines rhyme and the poem concludes with a rhymed couplet. All of the stanzas are quatrains, as in the first two:

THE HERO

Each voice which was asked
spoke its words, and heard
more than that, the fair question,
the onerous burden of the asking.
 
And so the hero, the
hero! stepped that gracefully
into his redemption, losing
or gaining life thereby.

Despite these obviously formal elements various critics continue to insist that Creeley wrote in "free verse," but most of his forms were strict enough so that it is a question whether it can even be maintained that he wrote in forms of prose. This particular poem is without doubt verse-mode, not prose-mode. M. L. Rosenthal in his The New Poets quoted Creeley's "'preoccupation with a personal rhythm in the sense that the discovery of an external equivalent of the speaking self is felt to be the true object of poetry,'" and went on to say that this speaking self serves both as the center of the poem's universe and the private life of the poet. "Despite his mask of humble, confused comedian, loving and lovable, he therefore stands in his own work's way, too seldom letting his poems free themselves of his blocking presence" (p. 148). When he used imagery, Creeley could be interesting and effective on the sensory level.

In an essay titled "Poetry: Schools of Dissidents," the academic poet Daniel Hoffman wrote, in The Harvard Guide to Contemporary American Writing which he edited, that as he grew older Creeley's work tended to become increasingly fragmentary in nature, even the titles subsequent to For Love: Poems 1950-1960 hinting at the fragmentation of experience in Creeley's work: Words, Pieces, A Day Book. In Hoffman's opinion, "Creeley has never included ideas, or commitments to social issues, in the repertoire of his work; his stripped-down poems have been, as it were, a proving of Pound's belief in 'technique as the test of a man's sincerity.'" (p. 533)

He died in Odessa, Texas of complications from respiratory disease.

Bibliography

  • Creeley, Robert. Le Fou (Columbus, Ohio: Golden Goose Press, 1952)
  • Creeley, Robert. The Immoral Proposition (Karlsruhe-Durlach/Baden, Germany: Jonathan Williams, 1953)
  • Creeley, Robert. The Kind of Act Of (Palma de Mallorca, Spain: Divers Press, 1953)
  • Creeley, Robert. The Gold Diggers (Palma de Mallorca, Spain: Divers Press, 1954). ISBN 0714502561
  • Creeley, Robert. A Snarling Garland of Xmas Verses, anonymous (Palma de Mallorca, Spain: Divers Press, 1954)
  • Creeley, Robert. All That Is Lovely in Men (Asheville, N.C.: Jonathan Williams, 1955)
  • Creeley, Robert. If You (San Francisco: Porpoise Bookshop, 1956)
  • Creeley, Robert. The Whip (Worcester, England: Migrant Books, 1957; Highland, N.C.: Jonathan Williams, 1957)
  • Creeley, Robert. A Form of Women (New York: Jargon Books in association with Corinth Books, 1959; Fontwell, Arundel, Sussex, England: Centaur, 1960)
  • Creeley, Robert. For Love: Poems 1950-1960 (New York: Scribners, 1962) ISBN 0684717387
  • Creeley, Robert. The Island (New York: Scribners, 1963; London: John Calder, 1964)
  • Creeley, Robert. Words (Rochester, Mich.: Perishable Press, 1965; enlarged as Words New York: Scribners, 1967)
  • Creeley, Robert. The Gold Diggers and Other Stories (London: John Calder, 1965; New York: Scribners, 1965)
  • Creeley, Robert. Poems 1950-1965 (London: Calder and Boyars, 1966)
  • Creeley, Robert. The Charm: Early and Uncollected Poems (Mt. Horeb, Wisc.: Perishable Press, 1967)
  • Creeley, Robert. Robert Creeley Reads (London: Turret Books/Calder and Boyars, 1967)
  • Creeley, Robert. A Sight (London, Cape Goliard, 1967)
  • Creeley, Robert. Divisions and Other Early Poems (Mt. Horeb, Wisc.: Perishable Press, 1968)
  • Creeley, Robert. The Finger (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1968).
  • Creeley, Robert. 5 Numbers (New York: Poets Press, 1968)
  • Creeley, Robert. Numbers (Stuttgart, Germany: Edition Domberger / Düsseldorf, Germany: Galerie Schmela, 1968)
  • Creeley, Robert. Pieces (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1968; New York: Scribners, 1969)
  • Creeley, Robert. Mazatlan: Sea (San Francisco: Poets Press, 1969)
  • Creeley, Robert. The Finger: Poems 1966-1969 (London: Calder and Boyars, 1970)
  • Creeley, Robert. In London (Bolinas, Calif.: Angel Hair Books, 1970)
  • Creeley, Robert. A Quick Graph: Collected Notes and Essays, edited by Donald Allen (San Francisco: Four Seasons Foundation, 1970)
  • Creeley, Robert. 1234567890 (Berkeley: Shambala; San Francisco: Mudra, 1971)
  • Creeley, Robert. St. Martin's (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1971)
  • Creeley, Robert. A Day Book (Berlin: Graphis, 1972); expanded edition including "In London," New York: Scribners, 1972)
  • Creeley, Robert. Listen (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1972)
  • Creeley, Robert. A Sense of Measure (London: Calder and Boyars, 1972)
  • Creeley, Robert. The Class of '47, with Joe Brainard (New York: Bouwerie Editions, 1973)
  • Creeley, Robert. Contexts of Poetry: Interviews 1961-1971, edited by Donald Allen (Bolinas, Calif.: Four Seasons Foundation, 1973)
  • Creeley, Robert. Sparrow 6: The Creative (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1973)
  • Creeley, Robert. For my mother: Genevieve Jules Creeley, 8 April 1887-7 October 1972 (Rushden, England: Sceptre Press, 1973)
  • Creeley, Robert. His Idea (Toronto: Coach House Press, 1973)
  • Creeley, Robert. Sparrow 14: Inside Out (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1973)
  • Creeley, Robert. Thirty Things (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1974)
  • Creeley, Robert. Backwards (Knotting, England: Sceptre Press, 1975)
  • Creeley, Robert. The Door: Selected Poems (Dusseldorf/München, Germany: S Press, 1975)
  • Creeley, Robert. Away (Santa Barbara, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press, 1976)
  • Creeley, Robert. Hello (Christchurch, New Zealand: Hawk Press, 1976)
  • Creeley, Robert. Mabel, A Story: and Other Prose (London: Marion Boyars, 1976)
  • Creeley, Robert. Presences: A Text for Marisol (New York: Scribners, 1976).
  • Creeley, Robert. Selected Poems (New York: Scribners, 1976)
  • Creeley, Robert. Sparrow 40: Was That a Real Poem or Did You Just Make It Up Yourself (Santa Barbara, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press, 1976).
  • Creeley, Robert. Mabel: A Story (Paris: Editions de l'Atelier Crommelynck, 1977)
  • Creeley, Robert. Myself (Knotting, Bedfordshire, England: Sceptre Press, 1977)
  • Creeley, Robert. Thanks (Old Deerfield, Mass.: The Deerfield Press; Dublin, Ireland: The Gallery Press, 1977)
  • Creeley, Robert. Hello: A Journal, February 29-May 3, 1976 (New York: New Directions, 1978; London: Marion Boyars, 1978) ISBN 0714525676
  • Creeley, Robert. Later: A Poem (West Branch, Iowa: Toothpaste Press, 1978) ISBN 0811207366
  • Creeley, Robert. Desultory Days (Knotting, Bedfordshire, England: Sceptre Press, 1978)
  • Creeley, Robert. Was That a Real Poem and Other Essays, edited by Donald Allen with a chronology by Mary Novik (Bolinas, Calif.: Four Seasons Foundation, 1979)
  • Creeley, Robert. Later (New York: New Directions, 1979; London: Marion Boyars, 1980)
  • Creeley, Robert. Corn Close (Knotting, Bedfordshire, England: Sceptre Press, 1980)
  • Creeley, Robert. Mother's Voice (Santa Barbara. Calif.: Am Here Books/Immediate Editions, 1981).
  • Olson, Charles; Creeley, Robert; Butterick, George F. (editor). Charles Olson and Robert Creeley: The Complete Correspondence (Vol. 3) (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1981) ISBN 087685482X
  • Creeley, Robert. The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1945-1975 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982).
  • Creeley, Robert. Echoes (West Branch, Iowa: Toothpaste Press, 1982)
  • Creeley, Robert. A Calendar 1984 (West Branch, Iowa: Toothpaste Press, 1983)
  • Creeley, Robert. Mirrors (New York: New Directions, 1983)
  • Creeley, Robert. The Collected Prose of Robert Creeley (New York and London: Marion Boyars, 1984; corrected edition, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988) ISBN 1564783030
  • Creeley, Robert. Memory Gardens (New York: New Directions, 1986)
  • Creeley, Robert. The Company (Providence: Burning Deck, 1988)
  • Creeley, Robert. Window (Buffalo: The Poetry/Rare Books Collection, SUNY at Buffalo, 1988)
  • Creeley, Robert. 7 & 6 (Albuquerque: Hoshour Gallery, 1988)
  • Creeley, Robert. Autobiography (Madras, India and New York: Hanuman, 1990)
  • Creeley, Robert. Dreams (New York: Periphery / Salient Seedling Press, 1989)
  • Creeley, Robert. It (Zurich, Switzerland: Bruno Bischofberger, 1989)
  • Creeley, Robert. Robert Creeley: a Selection, 1945-1987 (New York: Dia Art Foundation, 1989)
  • Creeley, Robert. Have a Heart' (Boise: Limberlost Press, 1990)
  • Creeley, Robert. Places (Buffalo: Shuffaloff Press, 1990)
  • Creeley, Robert. Windows (New York: New Directions, 1990) ISBN 0811211231
  • Creeley, Robert. Gnomic Verses (La Laguna, Canary Islands: Zasterle Press, 1991)
  • Creeley, Robert. The Old Days (Tarzana, Calif.: Ambrosia Press, 1991)
  • Creeley, Robert. Selected Poems (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991)
  • Creeley, Robert. Life & Death (New York: Gagosian Gallery, 1993)
  • Creeley, Robert. Echoes (New York: New Directions, 1994)
  • Creeley, Robert. Loops: Ten Poems (Kripplebush, NY: Nadja, 1995).
  • Allen, Donald M. and Robert Creeley. New American Story (Grove Press, 2001) ISBN 0394172981
  • Reznikoff, Charles and Robert Creeley. The Manner Music ISBN 0876853254


External links

de:Robert Creeley

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