Showing posts with label Robert Creeley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Robert Creeley. Show all posts

Monday, August 25, 2014

at the University of Helsinki
February, 1989

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

3 Lectures on Emily Dickinson


Robert Creeley

(one)  (two)  (three)

New College of California

September 1985

Friday, July 25, 2014

Robert Creeley


at Brown, 1998

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Robert Creeley & Louis Zukofsky
having a chat
in 1961

(being a link to the recording
on the PennSound Zukofsky page)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Robert Creeley
One of his best readings
At the SF State Poetry Center
July 16, 1959

Thanks to Maxine Chernoff for pointing this out

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011



Recommendations from our Audio Video Library

Robert Creeley
December 4, 1963

Description: Creeley’s 1963 appearance in Tucson for the Poetry Center’s Fall reading series is our earliest recorded reading. In it, the legendary poet reads from For LoveThe Gold Diggers, and Words. Listen to Creeley’s performance of “I Know a Man” for the poet’s fascinating commentary on the meaning of this, arguably his most famous poem.



::Listen to the reading::

We also recommend:

Robert Creeley
December 4, 2002

Robert Creeley returns to the Poetry Center,
39 years to the day after his 1963 reading,
to read from his recently published Chax Press chapbook, Yesterdays.

::Listen to the reading::

*Photograph by LaVerne Harrell Clark

The Poetry Center's Audio Video Library features recordings from the Center's long-running Reading Series and other readings presented under the auspices of the Center. The AVL includes multiple recordings of poets who have read for the Poetry Center numerous times over the years. Many of these recordings are accompanied by photographs from our archive. As we continue to digitize our recordings, these materials as well as new readings will be added to the AVL, so make sure you continue to visit us at

Description: University of ArizonaDescription: University of Arizona College of Humanities

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The city of Boston is filled with frogheaded flies and British policemen. The other day I saw the corpse of Emily Dickinson floating up the Charles River.

Sweet God, it is lonely to be dead. Sweet Good, is there any God to worship? Sweet God, you stand in Boston like a public statue. Sweet God, is there any God to swear love by? Or love it is lonely, is lonely, is lonely to be lonely in Boston.

Now Emily Dickinson is floating down the Charles River like an Indian Princess. Now naked savages are climbing out of all the graveyards. Now the Holy Ghost drips birdshit on the nose of God. Now the whole thing stops. Sweet God, poetry hates Boston.

This 1956 poem by Jack Spicer, which first appeared in The Poker, no. 5, in the winter of 2005, is taking on something of a promiscuous history. It appears in the current issue of The Massachusetts Review, devoted to GLBT writing, and is reprinted, with credit to the Mass Review, in the current edition of Harpers (subscription definitely required). Both, being School of Quietude haunts, fail to credit The Poker.

One can only imagine what Jack Spicer would have made of an appearance in Harpers, at least once he’d stopped puking his guts out. The cosmic joke at the heart of Book of Magazine Verse, the volume that was in press when Spicer died at the age of 40 in 1965, is that none of the magazines for which this diffident, supremely geo-centric author “wrote” his poems would ever have deigned to print them.

Not only did Spicer proleptically assume automatic rejection by The St. Louis Sporting News (now just The Sporting News) and Down Beat, two publications that didn’t (and still don’t) normally print poetry, but also by Ramparts, the SF-based Catholic theological journal that, in the 1960s, transformed itself into a radical antiwar publication (Mother Jones is a pretty direct descendent of Ramparts), Poetry – which by 1965 was regularly publishing Louis Zukofsky, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley &, most pointedly from Spicer’s perspective, Robert Duncan – and The Nation (whose poetry editor at the time, Denise Levertov, Spicer despised as she did him¹), but even an emergent post-avant mimeo rag such as Vancouver’s Tish and the apparently non-existent Vancouver Festival.

Spicer was very protective of his outsider status. He would allow his mimeo magazine J to be distributed as far east as Berkeley, but no further. To discover that you had sent a contributor’s copy to New York or Boston was to be banned from its pages forever after. While he did live & work in both Boston & Minneapolis for short periods, the poem above is pretty typical for the respect which Spicer showed them.

In the past several months, tho, works by Spicer have turned up in both Poetry and The Nation, part of the run-up to the publication next  month of My Vocabulary Did This To Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer, edited by Kevin Killian and Peter Gizzi. Having seen the manuscript at different stages of editing, I can say without hesitation that this is one of the great books of the 20th and of the 21st centuries. Gizzi & Killian have done a tremendous job.

Still, it is very strange to see Jack Spicer’s poetry turn up in places where it never would have done so in his own lifetime.²


Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer has a feature on the city’s Car Share program entitled – in 80-point type on the front of the Magazine section of the paper – “Drive, They Said.” Is this the largest print in which an allusion to Robert Creeley has ever appeared? And who at the Inky besides editor John Timpane & book reviewer Carlin Romano will even recognize it as such?


¹ Spicer appears to have seen her as a homophobic bluenose, an enemy of poetry. She seems to have seen him as a racist alcoholic. The fact that, in the mid-1960s, she was still something of an acolyte of Robert Duncan’s certainly did not help.

² I believe Spicer did send his poems both to Poetry and The Nation, both of which, true to his expectations, rejected them.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Brent Cunningham’s Interview with Robert Creeley is just the fifth volume of Hooke’s Books, but it’s been a doozy of a run thus far, with volumes by Norma Cole, Lauren Shufran, Kevin Killian & Laura Moriarty. This is the third book in a row from this press that I’ve reviewed here, not because I know Cunningham at all well – basically he’s been the affable “tall one” at Small Press Distribution for the past several years, tho he did give me a lift from there one time – but because the projects he does are so distinct, such as Norma Cole’s meditation on Tom Raworth as a collagiste, a selection of Kevin Killian’s wondrous Amazon reviews, and now a literal interview with Robert Creeley done in May of 1998, when Cunningham was finishing up a masters (in poetics?) at SUNY Buffalo & talking an independent study with Bob.

This book is a fascinating object, tho not the first fine press publication of an interview with Creeley. Tho Cunningham says he had no particular eye toward publication at the time he conducted the interview, Creeley had to have known that this would appear in print at some point. He’s brutally frank about some poets & some of his colleagues at Buffalo. He talks in great detail about the circumstances of Olson’s childhood & what made the working class kid from Worcester such an outsider at Harvard. And Creeley discusses why the environs of Amherst, Massachusetts, should have become ground zero for the School of Quietude when such unquiet folk as himself & Emily D could hale from the region as well.

But what I found most amazing here was simple presence of Creeley’s voice, transcribed. If ever you need a one-volume demonstration of why an oral interview later set into print is superior, by far, to one conducted by correspondence or email, this is your book. More than most authors, maybe more than any, Robert Creeley knew how to pattern his prose and his verse to replicate the patterns of his speech. That, in one sentence, was the kernel of Projective Verse and no one did it better than the author whom Olson most often pointed to as evidence for this theory in the first place.

But – as Jack Kerouac demonstrates in great detail in Visions of Cody when he gives you both a transcription of a tape and an “imitation” thereof, truly visions of code – speech, as such, is never the same as its representation. Creeley transcribed is never the same as Creeley crafted. And I’m not devaluing the latter when I argue that there is a place for the former that none of the texts by themselves can offer.

Yes, Creeley has the New Englander’s locution, which is built around reticence. But it’s much more than an accent, nor even “just” a syntax. Creeley works very hard to avoid putting people, objects or situations into received categories. This he often accomplishes by talking around the category, rather than employing its premises. He examines Olson’s background, a Swedish Catholic only child in a community of Swedes who mostly were Lutheran, immigrants who came to work in a factory while his dad instead ended up at the post office, an island of newcomers in this deeply “native” place invested in its role in creating the American revolution, and yet sufficiently insecure so that the goal of its aesthetics was to out-Brit the Brits, a pathological project that lingers to this day in an even more debased form. Creeley talks about stalking Robert Silliman Hillyer into a bar while at Harvard in order to peak into his notebook only to realize that alcoholic sonneteer was reduced to scribbling random squiggles, not even letters or words, so that people would think he was still writing. (When he got sober, Hillyer would become one of the arch-reactionaries of late forties verse, actively campaigning to have the works of Pound banned).

Anyone who has ever spent time with Creeley will know what I mean about the distinctness of his speech. This book is the first such instance of it that I’ve come across in the not quite three years since his death. As such, it’s a great gift for anyone who has missed not just the poetry, but the person as well.