Robert Creeley on reading the "difficult" poetry of
Louis Zukofsky and Gertrude Stein
[This is a brief excerpt from a 1999 interview with Robert Obermayer,
published in the
September/October 1999 issue of American Poetry Review. Obermayer
asked Creeley about Louis Zukofsky's influence.]
[I]t's true that if the disposition toward the poetry is that one comes to
it for what one can take away, paradoxically, with Louis you'll take away
a lot, but not by thinking you can. One can't go there to get that kind of
instruction. It's like living on a mountain or in any physical or social
place that doesn't really yield anything unless you're there. Zukofsky
requires a particular affection and hanging around. Gertrude Stein
certainly presents the same need that one has to really spend time with
her and not so much trust her, but trust the writing and presume it will
discover its own patterns. Although poetry can be used as a didactic or
dogmatic agency for transmittal of various information, it doesn't
necessarily depend upon that for its authority.
"[O]ne has to really spend time with [Stein],"
says Creeley, "and not so much trust her,
but trust the writing and presume it will
discover its own patterns."