April 17, 2011

Poets for April 17, 2011 - Robert Creeley

My second poet for today is a poet whose minimalist poems capture the essence of life and living in this world in a few words like few other poets I know. And also, while I may not "get" all his poems, there is an uncanny thing that happens every time I pick up The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1945-1975 from the library. I read a few poems and suddenly an urge to write takes over and words come spilling out! I have no idea why this happens but I think I have noticed this happening only with Creeley! I do not get the inspiration to write by reading any other poet but incidentally, reading haiku occasionally does make me get in the mood to write haiku. Must be something about minimalism and the way my brain is wired!

"So fantastically simple and so satisfyingly complicated, these poems band together like the days in "One Day"... "One day after another / perfect / They all fit."" - John Ashbery about Creeley's poems.
Robert Creeley (Born: May 21 1926, Arlington, MA – March 30 2005, Odessa, Texas )

Now onto Creeley and his poetry. I am not one who likes categorizations of poets but Robert Creeley is often said to be one of the leading proponents of the Black Mountain school of poetry in the US, also sometimes called "projectivist poetry".
Charles Olson.. coined the term "projective verse" in 1950. The ideas of projective verse centered around process rather than product, and owes much to objectivists like William Carlos Williams and modernists like Ezra Pound. This "composition by field" urges poets to simultaneously remove their subjectivity from their poems and "project" the energy of their work directly to the reader. Spontaneity and "the act of the poem" therefore take the place of reason and description.
Onto his poems... sharing five of them here today:

by Robert Creeley

One could reach up into
the air, to see if it was

still there, shoved back
through the hole, the little

purpose, hidden it was
the small, persisting agencies,

arms and legs, the ears
of wonder covered with area,

all eyes, the echoes, the aches
and pains of patience, the

inimitable here and now of all,
ever again to be one and only one,

to look back to see the long distance
or to go forward, having only lost.

by Robert Creeley

Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,
the getting out

of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
Be wet
with a decent happiness.

by Robert Creeley

I’d wanted
ease of year,
light in the darkness,
end of fears.
For the babe newborn
was my belief,
in the manger,
in that simple barn.
So since childhood
brought back kindness,
made possible care.
But this world now
with its want, its pain,
its tyrannic confusions
and hopelessness,
sees no star
far shining,
no wonder as light
in the night.
Only us then
remember, discover,
still can care for
the human.

by Robert Creeley

The gaps in time,
the times one can’t account for,
the practice it all took
even to make such images,
the meanings still unclear
though one recognizes
the subject, something has
to be missed, overlooked.

No one simply turns on a light.
Oneself becomes image.
The echo’s got in front,
begins again what’s over
just at the moment it was done.
No one can catch up, find
some place he’s never been to
with friends he never had.

This is where it connects,
not meaning anything one
can know. This is where
one goes in and that’s what’s to find
beyond any thought or habit,
an arched, dark space, the rock,
and what survives of what’s left.

by Robert Creeley

In that strange light,
garish like wet blood,

I had no expectations
or hopes, nothing any more

one shouts at life to wake it up,
be nice to us - simply scared

you'd be hurt, were already
changed. I was, your head

out, looked - I want each
day for you, each single day

for you, give them
as I can to you.

Many more poems by Creeley are at the amazing treasure-trove of a website that the Poetry Foundation hosts and also at the Creeley page at the Electronic Poetry Center at Univ. of Buffalo and also audio recordings, interviews with Creeley, and other goodies at the PennSound website.

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