Robert Creeley – Selected Letters

Picture of The Selected Letters of Robert CreeleyWe’ve already noted the new titles, essential titles, by Robert Duncan. The University of California Press now publishes another essential book, this time from Robert Creeley – “The Selected Letters of Robert Creeley(following on from his Collected Poems (in two volumes) and The Collected Essays (which is available, incidentally, on line, in its entirety))

Letters to Allen? – well, we counted twelve letters in the collection, (ok, nine letters, two faxes and one postcard! – this is a “thoroughly modern” collection, that includes, not only letters, but postcards, faxes – and e-mails!). The earliest is from September 19, 1956 (“Dear, old dear friend Al”), the last from 1993 (those two afore-mentioned faxes).Here’s the postcard (from Buffalo, September 10, 1966, at the onset of his teaching there)

Dear Bozo,
Just to report position viz beachhead established sans bloodshed, and am now in bizness. I went up to Gloucester last Sunday and had word of you all from Charles (Olson) and John (Wieners). Will see you October if not before. I think it’s going to work out here ok. Good people in so-called classes at least. The house is good. Kirsten [his daughter] decided to go to local high-school here which makes much sense. So –  take good care of yourselves [sic] and keep in touch if possible. All love to you both [Allen & Peter] – Bob.”

And here’s a letter, from Gloucester (June 20 1970), almost four years later:

“Dear Allen,
That was a very happy and useful time with you. It’s now very quiet here – crazy splatter of light out kitchen window midafternoon. Really thinking and thinking of that “abstract” activity I seem fact of. Any- how – onward. I’ve read a little over 100 pp. now of the Indian Journals, beautiful, exact company to have, dense, various, thoughtful, extensive – and very human. So – thanks. Likewise, listening to your Blake. You’re a deeply gifted man, old friend. A quatrain, like they say: “If you get sillier/as you get older/as you get younger, / That’s really abstract.” Dig, that’s me.  With love – Bob.”

One more (from Linwood Avenue, Buffalo, 1973):

Dear friend,
saw Allen DeLoach on Friday briefly, and he said he’d heard you had slipped on some ice and broken a leg – which is sad to hear and I hope not fucking impossible for you. I’m sure heaven must be getting ready some substantial eternal blisses and that present meat is only to whet your appetite. Or something like that, like. Once things settle at all here, I hope to get over to see you, out of the traffic. I did see you, by the way, in NYC – but there were so many angels floating all around you it was hard to keep a steady focus…What really entered my head that day was Gregory (Corso)’s sudden poem (“Proximity”) – “The star is as far as my eye can see. And the star is as near as my eye is to me. Or the eye – not my, etc. [ “A star/is as far/as the eye/can see/and/as near/as my eye/is to me” –] A lovely quick talisman to have in the head. He’s a beauty…”

And from that first letter (1956) – “All my poems are social crucifixions, Allen, you know that..”

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Creeley at St Mark’s Church Poetry Project, NYC – photograph c. Laure Leber

Needless to say, the correspondence with Allen is only a tiny section of this rich, informative, 450-page-plus volume. Other correspondents include Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Louis Zukofsky, Larry Eigner,  Denise Levertov, Cid Corman, Paul Blackburn, Jerome Rothenberg, Anselm Hollo,  Jack Kerouac,  Gregory Corso, Amiri Baraka,  Ed Dorn,  Bobbie-Louise Hawkins,  Tom Raworth, Tom Clark, Susan Howe, Charles Bernstein…. and that’s just a few of them – and the list goes on..


  1. Hi Michael. Yes, there's a lot more correspondence with Allen, all that survives is at Stanford. Hopefully we succeed in conveying his importance to Creeley within the parameters we were given, i.e.60 years of correspondence in one volume. Allen is also mentioned in letters to Kerouac, Olson, Williams, etc. & thanks, Ginsbergblog for the review! Best, Rod Smith

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