Sunday, April 03, 2005

Tribute to Robert Creeley (1926-2005)

--on Wednesday, 30 March 2005: Saddest of news: Robert Creeley has passed on...

RIP, wishing you a peaceful journeying...

Below is a mix of Creeley writings I especially like, and links to things about him that I found to be insightful and/or significant.

Here is one of my favorite Creeley poems:

When I think *

When I think of where I've come from

or even try to measure as any kind of

distance, those places, all the various

people, and all the ways in which I re-

member them, so that even the skin I

touched or was myself fact of, inside,

could see through like a hole in the wall

or listen to, it must have been, to what

was going on in there, even if I was still

too dumb to know anything-- When I think

of the miles and miles of roads, of meals,

of telephone wires even, or even of water

poured out in endless streams down streaks

of black sky or the dirt roads washed clean,

or myriad, salty tears and suddenly it's spring

again, or it was-- Even when I think again of

all those I treated so poorly, names, places,

their waiting uselessly for me in the rain and

I never came, was never really there at all,

was moving so confusedly, so fast, so driven

like a car along some lonely highway passing,

passing other cars-- When I try to think of

things, of what's happened, of what a life is

and was, my life, when I wonder what it meant,

the sad days passing, the continuing, echoing deaths,

all the painful, belligerent news, and the dog still

waiting to be fed, the closeness of you sleeping, voices,

presences, of children, of our own grown children,

the shining, bright sun, the smell of the air just now,

each physical moment, passing, passing, it's what

it always is or ever was, just then, just there.

*Robert Creeley, Yesterdays. Chax Press,2002.

I had just run a Texfiles post on Creeley and this poem,
on 8 Feb 05, a post about the Adorno notion of aura in photography, ideas that I began to think on because I like the above photo of Creeley so much.
I see now that many of the photos now being posted in tribute seem to hold similarly to aura.

a good place to start: EPC/Robert Creeley Author Home Page

Ron Silliman has been posting a lovely week-long kind of memorium on Creeley. Here are links to a few of the highlights:

Ron Silliman's post, "Onward"--Robert Creeley

Silliman's 3 Feb 2004 Overview-Review on Creeley's Significance to Poetry

Sunday, 3 Apr 05, a few more of Silliman's links on Creeley, including the Conjunctions page and the video file of Creeley's talk at the Zukofsky Memorial last year. Ron, thanks for all this.

This one's of particular significance: Tom Raworth's collection of notes from folks who knew and loved Creeley

Malcolm Davidson and Ivy Alvarez have put together a list of tributes at the blog Dumbfoundry.

At John Tranter's
Jacket Magazine
, issue # 26: Robert Adamson's fine tribute to Robert Creeley, 1926–2005.

>Spaceship Tumblers: Tony Tost reading from a Robert Creeley interview


The Rain

All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.

What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
insisted upon
so often? Is it

that never the ease,
even the hardness,
of rain falling
will have for me

something other than this,
something not so insistent--
am I to be locked in this
final uneasiness.

Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,
the getting out

of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
Be wet
with a decent happiness.


"Oh, do you remember..."--Creeley's elegy to Ed Dorn,
posted at Cento Magazine


from Jack Kimball, poet, and the editor of
Faux Press
: an entry originally published in Encyclopedia of American Poetry: the Twentieth Century, a fine critical-biographical take on Creeley's poetry and poetics, regarding Creeley's For Love: Poems 1950-1960 [currently posted to Pantaloons blog (Wed. 3/29/05)].


Lance Phillips' particularly varied and fine gathering of tributes to Creeley, posted to Here Comes Everybody, 12 April 05.


NPR's *Remembrances* obit on _All Things Considered_


The World

I wanted so ably
to reassure you, I wanted
the man you took to be me,

to comfort you, and got
up, and went to the window,
pushed back, as you asked me to,

the curtain, to see
the outline of the trees
in the night outside.

The light, love,
the light we felt then,
greyly, was it, that

came in, on us, not
merely my hands or yours,
or a wetness so comfortable,

but in the dark then
as you slept, the grey
figure came so close

and leaned over,
between us, as you
slept, restless, and

my own face had to
see it, and be seen by it,
the man it was, your

grey lost tired bewildered
brother, unused, untaken--
hated by love, and dead,

but not dead, for an
instant, saw me, myself
the intruder, as he was not.

I tried to say, it is
all right, she is
happy, you are no longer

needed. I said,
he is dead, and he
went as you shifted

and woke, at first afraid,
then knew by my own knowing
what had happened--

and the light then
of the sun coming
for another morning
in the world.


On what, as a reader and editor, Robert Creeley liked 'best' in poetry, especially since he found the term 'best' to be very troubling since it is a designator of exclusionary thinking and poetic practices such as didacticism, with which he disagreed. The following is excerpted from Robert Creeley's introduction to the volume he edited, _Best American Poetry, 2002_ (series editor, David Lehman. NY:Scribner's, 2003) :

              Pound advised the aspirant [of poetry writing] to listen to the sound that [poetry] makes and felt that poetry atrophied when it got too far from music. ... My grandmother could recite poems endlessly. A practical, working-class woman from Maine, she had a store of poems she much valued ... So, what is best, then? ... what one can use as measure and judgement has finally to do with his or her own perceptions and needs in that complex of others with whom one shares a life. ... I think of Robert Duncan's saying, "I can't remember if I wrote it or read it!" It was that kind of closeness, as if I'd come into an unexpected clearing, a space I had not known was there, and in it was something equally both familiar and strange, something *new* to me, that freshened ways I took the world and myself to be existing, and also made me at home in it. Just as my grandmother did, I wanted something in my head, I wanted the literal comfort of words, I wanted them to tell me things, all things, anything. I wanted them to speak to me. Robert Creeley, BAP, 2002 (xviii-xx)


The Language

Locate I
love you
where in

teeth and
eyes, bite
it but

take care not
to hurt, you
want so

much so
little. Words
say everything.

love you


then what
is emptiness
for. To

fill, fill.
I heard words
and words full

of holes
aching. Speech
is a mouth.



America, you ode for reality!
Give back the people you took.

Let the sun shine again
on the four corners of the world

you thought of first but do not own,
or keep like a convenience.

People are your own word,
you invented that locus and term.

Here, you said and say,
is where we are. Give back

what we are, these people you made,
us, and nowhere but you to be.

.Peace Y'all.