Robert Creeley in Buffalo Conversation – 1980 – 4

Robert Creeley (1926-2005)

Conversation between Robert Creeley and Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky and Allan DeLoach in Buffalo in 1980, first published in the Niagra-Erie Writers Newsletter continues from here – and concludes here

AG: When you’re, when you, Creeley…

RC: Yeah

AG: …are into verse of short lines, where every word that has definite, like, function, or..

RC: ..rhythm

AG: ..one following another, and you slow down and you pronounce each one..

RC: Yeah! yeah

AG: …in quantity.

RC: Yeah, yeah, yeah

AG: Were you aware of that as quantity or were you aware of that  as just slowing down to…

RC: Well!

AG: …give each word a..

RC: To accent.. to, well not even to accent but to.. Well, obviously, to, quote, stress, both with beat but also with function of word, you know, That is, I was thinking of.. again, there’s an interesting fact when (Ezra) Pound says that (W.B.) Yeats gets his coherence by pulling out the vowels….that instance, and by really going to quantity, for the authority of the coherence, for getting the coherence…

AG: So the effect of quantity as it’s being presented makes every major word deliberate.

RC: Yeah.

AG: Really deliberate!  

RC: I remember that time, years ago when we were driving back to the farm, and you were telling me of this setting of (Thomas) Nash– for example…

AG: Uh-huh

RC:  ..and how that… you know.. “queens have died, young and fair”.I want to put in “both” , to complete the rhythm (laughter)

AG: To complete the iamb. (laughter). Okay so what you get to complete the rhythm is to add a caesura, he has a rest..

RC: Musically, “queens had died…” – it makes you really go to work.

AG: Queens have died, young and fair,

RC: I want to say both,

ADL: “both young and fair” –  da-dah  da-dah

AG: So my taste ran for such a long time to long speedy lines (rather) than to slowdown, to slow down, to hear what it.., to speak like a distinguished old fart, to speak like on old diplomatist ,so that people will hear every word and take it serious…maybe  So quantity is good for when you get old maybe?

ADL (to Allen Ginsberg) : In my introduction this morning, one of the.. uh.. I mentioned about five things that were your influences biblical writings, Christopher Smart, William Blake, Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williamsas some of the people that you had paid attention to. And the early ones were all long lines, until you got to Williams, (who is doing something again very different from the long breath lines) 

RC: [also to Allen]  You were, I remember youback in Vancouver,  you were saying you wrote both, no higher, etc…

AG:  Yeah

RC: And then there were the two bricklayers, which was just…

AG:…that. Meanwhile, the wind through the trees… the wind on top of the trees in the street comes through almost harshly..

RC: Harshly, which is…

AG: …which is sort of slow, slowed down..

RC:  ..almost harshly

PO: There is an added thing, like, when you meditate…

RC: I know

PO: …you show a dharma,  a posture, through the…uh, you throw out a lot of lines like that one might write and for a more. uh, spontaneous…

RC: Yeah, like a..

PO: …flow come up that surprises ya..

RC: Well, that’s what I hope to get hold of in writing. Writing is.. I don’t know how and I can’t say accurately, it’s a form of, it isa form of meditation, because it doesn’t seem to begin with any any… 

PO: Except with writing, you don’t have the breath

RC: No, I don’t

PO: You’re not being like a baby

RC: No.  I have the habit rather than the intention.

ADL: (to Robert Creeley): You have an incredible tension at the end of your lines, Bob, that you put in. Are you sensing that tension in the actual writing? (when you read, when you tense it at the end of the line?)

RC: It feels that way, yeah, yeah. Otherwise it tends to peter out. I haven’t written much, haven’t been doing much in the last two years now. I notice when I do get anything together, what starts, torques uo, and then it dissipates, either the..whatever’s coming, whatever I’m saying or whatever the beginning of the poem’s  saying, or, and/or, the factual language is really getting… I just don’t feel it here. So I’m letting it sit quiet.

AG: He (Charles Olson) picked out a number of interesting lines – “A pudency so rosy the sweet view on it/might well have warmed old Saturn..”

RC: Yeah, I hear that.

AG: …” might well have warmed old Saturn..” – “All this the world well knows yet none know well”...”world well knows”

RC: Right. Yeah

AG: So that’s molossuswhat is it when you get three in a row? – spondee?– I forget the name of it  [phone rings]  – “none knows well”… (it’s) supposed to be “ALL THIS the WORLD well KNOWS yet NONE knows WELL”, but it’s “all this the world well knows….”  da-da-da– long-long-long – “none knows well”. So a specialty to the  ear – that’s what a quantitative is.

ADL : Yeah

AG: The special law – when you get several long vowels at once and you pronounce them slowly and hear each one deliberate.

ADL: (to Peter Orlovsky) Peter, your writing is much more intuitive when you’re making your lines isn’t it?

PO: Gee, I don’t know.  Intuitive? I don’t know. It might come from actual experience

ADL: Let me check this thing  (the recorder) to make sure it’s working.

(end of recording

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