Robert Creeley Essay - Creeley, Robert (Vol. 1)

Creeley, Robert (Vol. 1)

Creeley, Robert 1926–

An American poet whose principal literary ancestors are William Carlos Williams and Charles Olson, Creeley is noted for his terse lines in colloquial American English. He also writes novels and stories. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 1-4, rev. ed.)

As for Creeley, the enormous charm has always been there, and a great danger I suppose, though wonderful in the man himself, a mixture of Captain Hook and Robert Louis Stevenson. The dangerous tightrope for Creeley is between ease and difficulty with slightness.

G. S. Fraser, in Partisan Review, Summer, 1968, p. 474.

Creeley's mind … is playing out over the contemporary scene and attempting to find in his own consciousness a source of unity in the present world…. Everything in Creeley's book [Pieces] is seen through the lens of intellectual analysis, through a mind like a prism that refracts the world in segments. It is a universe rather like that inhabited by Camus's Stranger, that is to say, a world in which the individual consciousness provides whatever sense of reality is possible, while the outer forms of existence have only a dream-like presence…. It is impossible, I believe, to become more abstract without destroying the very presence of poetry. Yet Creeley manages to hold himself at the taut edge of poetic existence. It is a dangerous technique, impossible, I imagine, to imitate successfully, but a unique and worthy achievement in its own right.

Louis L. Martz, in Yale Review (© 1970 by Yale University; reprinted by permission of the editors), Spring, 1970, pp. 256-57, 261.

The titles of Robert Creeley's three major collections of poetry can also tell us a good deal about the direction in which his work is moving. From For Love (1962) through Words (1967) to Pieces (1969),… one senses an increasing dissection of experience—a movement toward the smallest and most exact units of consciousness the poet can discover. Those who do not like Creeley's work will call this "fragmentation," but it is clearly not a negative quality in these poems. Pieces is a kind of "poetry in progress," a record of the poet's consciousness and its interaction with the "pieces" of the world around him. The typographical design of the volume reinforces this conception of it. The book is set in a boldface type; some of the poems are titled, others are set apart by three dots, still others by a single dot or an asterisk. This design often (purposely) makes it difficult to know where one poem ends and another begins. Then there are Creeley's interspersed "comments" which interrupt the poetry and interact with it. By stripping away many of the conventions of poetry, and even of the printed volume, it seems Creeley's intention to get his poems to the reader more directly.

Fred Moramarco, in Western Humanities Review, Spring, 1970, p. 203.