Know a Man
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what can we do against
it, or else, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car, drive, he sd, for
christs sake, look
out where yr going.
Creeley (b. 1926) is a New Englander by birth and disposition although
he has spent most of his life in other parts of the world including Guatemala,
British Columbia, France and Spain. In the 1950s he taught at Black Mountain
College and also edited the Black Mountain Review, a crucial gathering
place for alternative senses of writing at that time. Charles Olson, then
rector of the college, Robert Duncan and Edward Dorn are among the company
he met there. Subsequently he taught at the University of New Mexico and
in 1966 went to the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he
still teaches as the Samuel Capen Professor of Poetry and the Humanities.
He was also the first director of the Poetics Program at the same university,
begun in 1990 with colleagues Charles Bernstein, Susan Howe, Dennis Tedlock
and Raymond Federman.
Although most identified as a poet (For Love, Pieces, Windows and Selected Poems are examples of his many collections), he has written a significant body of prose including a novel, The Island, and a collection of stories, The Gold Diggers. His critical writings are published in The Collected Essays of Robert Creeley and his correspondence with Charles Olson is now in nine volumes continuing (The Complete Correspondence).
He is also known for the diversity of his collaborations with artists outside his own authority. For example, he has records with two decisive jazz composer/musicians, the bassist Steve Swallow (Home) and the saxophonist Steve Lacy (Futurities). Most recently he collaborated with the alternative mix rock group Mercury Rev ("The Hum is Coming from Her/So There"). Otherwise he has worked for more than three decades with visual artists--John Altoon, Robert Indiana, Jim Dine, R.B. Kitaj, Francesco Clemente, John Chamberlain and Susan Rothenberg among them. Despite he has been emphasized as a master of formal possibilities, his art has no impulse to enclose itself in the literary solely, or to move apart from the common terms of the given world. Coming of age in the years of the Second World War, he feels his world has been one insistently involved with the unrelieved consequence of being literally human--the cultish "existentialism" of his youth grown universal.