Robert Creeley, American poet (1926-2005)

To the One in the Gray Coat

To the one in the gray coat,
sitting as though he were
asleep, were beyond these
involving actions, I will
address myself. Ole!

He will become conscious,
so, of the south. I have
called to mind for him,
have suggested by language,
a world of inner warmth,

a south of the spirit in
which he will be the one
who is not asleep, who
dozes in the completeness
of things which are warm,

in the sun, in the sun’s
completeness. And the coat
as remnant, to be left on
the bench. And he will
know this and will leave it.

Then, going, he will have
passed me, in chill air,
the disciple, to say more
of, to go on with these
signs of inadequate love.

from: The Charm: Early and Uncollected Poems (1968)


Walls are
relief in lifting
themselves. Let

you also
lift yourself,
selves, shelves.

from: The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1945-1975

Robert Creeley Autobiography

Sometime in the 1990s a friend of mine gave me a tiny book (4 inches x 2 ¾ inches) entitled Robert Creeley Autobiography (pub. 1990). On the cover was a photo of Mr. Creeley ostensibly taken by fellow poet, Allen Ginsburg.


I finally read this autobiography recently, and in today’s world I guess it would be called a memoir. Densely written, Robert Creeley meanders in the telling of his life story yet it is worth the reading.  Of significance I learned he had two traumatic things happen to him before the age of five: first he lost his left eye in a freak accident while riding in a car at age two, and secondly, his father died when Robert was four years old.  In a matter of fact somewhat stoic manner, the poet discusses how these two events shaped his life from then on. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Mr. Creeley eventually went on to live not only in other parts of New England in upstate New York, he also spent time in India, Burma, New Mexico, France, Spain and Finland. He studied at Harvard and later worked for a number of years as a professor at State University of New York, Buffalo and for a time at Brown University.

As a poet Robert Creeley is linked to a group of avant garde poets from the 1950s known as the Black Mountain poets.  This term stems from Black Mountain College, a progressive school of arts education and academia located in North Carolina that was instrumental in producing some of the more significant avant garde artists that flourished in the 1960s.  Creeley later befriended some of the beat writers and is sometimes affliated with this group of writers also.



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