Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Robert Creeley’s Essays Online

Ron Silliman posted a link to Robert Creeley’s essays, now online thanks to UCal Press. Go here for the goods.

First of all, it pleases me NOT to see a picture of myself on Ron’s blog, leastwise one with 2 sets of 4 numerals separated by a dash. Ah, I breathe.

Second, it is nice to have these essays readily available. I mean not because I am cheap, but that they provide a general usefulness. Those publishers who curl protectively around their copyrights are part of the resistance to be fought. Creeley’s essays seem culturally important, if I can say that. Think of them as poetic reference works. Anyway, I think we have seen demonstration that to give away will redound positively.

Creeley’s critical writing was a necessary intensity in his writing. I guess it is part of the post-modern thrum that criticism twines so closely with the poetry. Creeley was generous in such writing, perhaps too. Blurbs are not criticism but we can consider them roughly the same doormat (to the poetry house). Creeley’s blurbs could be awful, I won’t say routinely so.  He would produce positive-sounding mumbles, then addend his affirming name. I always took note of books blurbed by RC, tho.

Critically, however, he played a good game. If you’ve read Poe’s criticism, you might nearly be overwhelmed by the antic situation. Poe’s crazy acumen was fully wasted on so many forgotten sentries of taste circa mid 19th. Creeley has his share of nobodies about whom he professes possibilities of expanse. Still, his batting average remains high.

And, too, plus, furthermore: he knew everybody. Him and Ginsberg counted coup on American culture, period.

Argue with me if you like, but Creeley’s poetry is not enough to keep me interested in him. I was reading his early collected recently, and it is valuable. But the considerable bear in the doorway for me proves to be the critical work. UCP would like you to buy this book, which I think is fair. A useful book for your time.

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