Saturday, May 21, 2011

Robert Creeley

Our much-loved and much-missed friend, Robert Creeley was born on this date, May 21 1926. This extraordinary page - is a portal to some of his extraordinary poetry. This page is pretty comprehensive too. A video of him reading at the Cue Gallery in New York in 2005 can be accessed here, and one (of him reading for the Lannan Foundation in Los Angeles, some fifteen years earlier) may be found here. Distinctive readings of classic early poems include this ("After Lorca") and this ("The Dishonest Mailman") and this ("The Ballad of the Despairing Husband"). A reading and discussion (with Al Filreis) that took place at the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania in April of 2000 is available here (as is a reading that he gave in Buffalo six months earlier).
Speaking of video, there's also this curious "home movie"/interview by Ted Pelton, (recorded in Buffalo, dating from 2002).
Bob (Robert) was interviewed on numerous occasions (poet Kyle Schlesinger has even proposed that he might be "one of the most interviewed poets of all time"!) - most notably, in 1968, for The Paris Review.
More recently, interviews have appeared with, amongst others, Don Swain (1984), Alastair Johnston (1987), Bruce Comens (1993), Charles Bernstein (1995), Alan Riach (1995), J.M.Spalding (1998), Johnette Rodriguez (1998) Mong-Lan (1999), Al Filreis (2000), Leonard Schwartz (2003), Robert Arnold (2003), Jamelah Earle (2004), Jenni Russell (2004) and Larry Sawyer (undated).
Circa 2004, he made himself available to answer questions at
Mention might be made in this context of the pioneering Day Book of A Virtual Poet (1998).
Mention should certainly be made of the special Robert Creeley edition of Jacket (edited by Michael Kelleher).
And is it necessary to say again how loved this man was?. Testimonials aplenty - here, here and here - here, even.

PennSound is intimidatingly up to date, but, altho' it has the audio for his May 1956 SFSU Poetry Center reading, it doesn't seem to have caught up yet with a second reading he gave there, in July of 1959 (he begins with remarks on Hart Crane, and Charles Olson, before launching into a classic Creeley "set").

We are, as you know, a big fan of the Internet Archive and there's a huge a whole slew of Creeley there.

Did you know that the entire Collected Essays of Robert Creeley is available on line?

Creeley's multiple collaborations (not only with poets, but, crucially, with a range of visual artists) needs noting but is just going to have to wait for another post.

Ginsberg on Creeley: "Robert Creeley has created a noble life body of poetry that extends the work of his predecessors Pound, Williams, Zukofsky and Olson and provides like them a method for his successors in exploring our new American poetic consciousness."

Creeley on Ginsberg: "The heroism of Allen Ginsberg in the 'fifties cannot be overemphasized: "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical..." Come back into the body. We do not go 'backward' or 'forward' in the mind - we live."

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