In an intimate and intense discussion recorded on reel-to-reel tapes in 1963, poet Robert Creeley provides a critical understanding of his poetry, short stories, and novel. These ideas are intertwined with discussions about his personal history, literary development, and encounters with Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Charles Olson, and Robert Duncan. There are also personal stories, including accounts of his experiences in the North American Ambulance Service in World War II and of the loss of an eye as a child, and what this meant to him.
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Creeley often quoted Olson’s line “I left him naked / the man said and / nakedness / is what one means.” Creeley said those (naked) experiences could be beautiful but also painful. In some of these conversations Creeley is naked, often with a kind of grim humor.
Though many years have passed since these conversations were first recorded and many biographies have been written that cover aspects of this narrative, there is a uniqueness to the material that will be of interest to scholars and others interested in Robert Creeley.
As the Poetry Foundation notes, “At the time of his death in 2005, Robert Creeley was widely recognized as one of the most important and influential American poets of the twentieth century. His poetry is noted for both its concision and emotional power. Albert Mobilio, writing in the Voice Literary Supplement, observed: ‘Creeley has shaped his own audience. The much imitated, often diluted minimalism, the compression of emotion into verse in which scarcely a syllable is wasted, has decisively marked a generation of poets.’ ”