Robert Creeley Additional Biography


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Robert White Creeley was born in Arlington, Massachusetts, in 1926 (a year that was to prove an annus mirabilis for American poetry, for others born that year include Allen Ginsberg, Frank O’Hara, Paul Blackburn, and Lew Welch). Creeley lost his father, Oscar, a doctor, at the age of four, and thereafter lived with his mother and sister in the nearby town of West Acton. At fourteen, he won a scholarship to the Holderness School in Plymouth, New Hampshire. He entered Harvard University in 1943. When he turned eighteen, being unfit for military service because of a childhood accident that had cost him an eye, he joined the U.S. Ambulance Corps and was sent to Burma. After World War II ended, he returned to Harvard, but he eventually left without taking a degree.

In 1946, Creeley was married to his first wife, Ann McKinnon. About this time, he struck up the close friendship with Cid Corman that was to lead to the launching of Corman’s groundbreaking journal Origin. This journal published much of Creeley’s early work and also the work of Charles Olson, an older poet with whom Creeley corresponded daily for two years. At that time, Olson was rector of Black Mountain College in North Carolina, and Creeley became editor (in absentia) of the Black Mountain Review, another key vehicle of what came to be called projective verse (after Olson’s essay of that name), Black Mountain poetry, or, more generally, the new American poetry. Creeley had been living...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Robert White Creeley became arguably one of the most influential English-language poets and editors of the late twentieth century, at least partly because he was associated with so many schools and movements of poetry. His name crops up in relation to the Beat poets, to the San Francisco renaissance, to the language poetry school, to the “Deep Imagist” poets in homage to William Carlos Williams, and, most logically, to the Black Mountain school associated with Charles Olson.

Some of these associations are a bit tenuous; the one that makes the most sense is his relationship with the Black Mountain school, or those poets and artists who were in residence at the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina in the 1950’s, when Olson hired Creeley for several years to teach poetics there. Their relationship prospered, with Creeley writing the introduction to Olson’s Selected Writings, publishing a multivolume set of correspondence between the two, and finally editing the posthumous Selected Poems by Olson.

When Creeley was a boy, he was struck in the eye by a stone thrown by a passing car. His parents invested the resultant insurance settlement, thereby assuring that Creeley could attend Harvard University as an undergraduate. As Creeley himself noted, if not for the accident, which caused him to lose the eye, he probably never would have gone to college.

Creeley was a curious young boy and young man. He was drawn to the classics; he also quickly took to modernist influences. He...

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(Poetry for Students)

Robert Creeley was born in Arlington, Massachusetts, on May 21, 1926, the son of a physician. In 1928, his left eye was injured in an...

(The entire section is 392 words.)