Robert Creeley – 2


Robert Creeley – Photograph by Allen Ginsberg – © Estate of Allen Ginsberg  – caption: “Robert Creeley, one-eyed poet at Naropa Institute poetics commune house, summer session, July 1984, he sat patient with me across supper table before his lecture, old friend”

AG: Where were we? Oh Creeley? So Creeley.  (Robert) Creeley. Each syllable is a thought. That’s a good way of (describing it), actually. That’s an aphorism for Creeley – “One thought per syllable” (in the sense that each syllable seems to be like a new thought) – opposite from my kind of writing, or, say, somebody else, say, Gregory (Corso) , where a thought is, like, five or six words, or a whole streak of a line, or a longer flash or picture. His art is verbal, (in the sense that it’s just the material). Syllable itself is his main.. material with the poem (matter – like a painter has..  a painter works with pigment, his particular pigment), his (Creeley’s) particular pigment is a syllable, whereas mine would be phrasing or cadence, (Jack) Kerouac would be a funny kind of longer bop rhythm, Gregory Corso’s would be an idea (you know, like a little measured idea, like “I threw Beauty out of the Window, ran down six flights and caught her before she..before she fell” – (“Then Beauty…ah Beauty -/ As I lead her to the window/I told her “You I loved best in life/…but you’re a killer; Beauty kills!”/Not really meaning to drop her/I immediately ran downstairs/getting there just in time to catch her/”You saved me”, she cried/I put her down and told her; “Move on””) – [ Allen is partially misremembering/alluding to the second stanza of Corso’s poem, “The Whole Mess..Almost”}) – So, I mean, he (Corso)”s not interested syllable by syllable, he’s interested in, like, a clear little idea, cleanly presented. Creeley, I would say, just, hears by syllable. Does that make sense? Creeley (your hearing of him and his reading)? –  (And) when he reads, he reads that way..

And his idea of the line is, if he’s writing a couplet, there should be enough space in between the end of one line and the beginning of another that you can walk around the block, come back and continue. Like , “If you were going to have a pet/ What kind of animal would you get” – “if you were going to get a pet/ what kind of animal would you get?” – Actually, he said that, relating to that particular line – I once heard him say that – that “time enough in-between the lines to walk around the block”. So have each line discrete, also. So each syllable discrete, and each line discrete – As what? Discrete as what? – As a little pebble or rock or rhythmic… a little rhythmic pebble or rhythmic rock, a little construction of syllables within itself. Within itself, each line a little funny sound.

And his original model for that was Miles Davis, when Miles Davis was playing short, short bursts of musical..  back in the late (19)40’s, early )19)50’s. You know, like punctuating..his thoughts, punctuating the time – That make sense? – I don’t know if anyone knows early Miles Davis, but it was very cool, economical, trumpet comments, in-between, like, that followed a long Kerouac-ian period of Charlie Parker and Lester Young, and others, who had a long breath, and who blew long chorus lines. Then Miles Davis introduced the idea of just.. not (long breaths) .. just hitting the highlights of the melody – ba-dup, dilly-up, dilly-up – instead of  ba-dup ba-dee-dee-up ba dee-dee-dee-up-ba-dee-dee-up, be-de-up, be-de-up.  In other words, just highlight(ing). the punctuations, or short comments.

Okay, that was Creeley. I just thought I’d add that in to whatever was studied before.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirteen minutes in and concluding at approximately sixteen-and-three-quarter minutes in]

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