Robert Creeley, 78, Groundbreaking Poet, Dies

Dinitia Smith in the New York Times:

01creeley184Robert Creeley, who helped transform postwar American poetry by making it more conversational and emotionally direct, died on Wednesday in Odessa, Tex. He was 78 and had been in residence at a writers’ retreat maintained by the Lannan Foundation in Marfa, Tex.

The cause was complications from lung disease, his wife, Penelope, said.

“Visible truth,” Mr. Creeley once wrote, quoting Melville, is “the apprehension of the absolute condition of present things.” That was the goal of his own work – emotion compressed in short, sparse sentences and an emphasis on feeling.

Mr. Creeley wrote, edited or was a major contributor to more than 60 books, including fiction, essays and drama. He belonged to a group of poets – beginning with Modernists like Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams and continuing through the Beats and the Black Mountain poets like Charles Olson – who tried to escape from what they considered the academic style of American poetry, with its European influences and strict rhyme and metric schemes.

The critic Marjorie Perloff called Mr. Creeley an heir to Williams.

More here.  And here’s Creeley’s poem, “I Know a Man”:

As I sd to my
friend, because I am
always talking, – John, I
sd, which was not his
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
christ’s sake, look
out where yr going.

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