Saturday, April 02, 2005

 

 

L-R: Allen DeLoach, Tom Pickard, RS, Lawrence Ferlinghetti & Bob Creeley.

 

Community. I use that term rather a lot & I know that it irritates a few folks who prefer to see writing as a more solitary endeavor. Yet in this past week, there have been impromptu – almost spontaneous in one case – memorial services for Robert Creeley in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Austin, Texas & no doubt elsewhere. At UC San Diego on Sunday, the new poetry radio program being set up by James Meetze & Matthew Shindell will devote its first hour to Bob – you can link to the show at 4:00 p.m. Pacific time here. (Remember the switch over to daily savings starts Sunday also). At least 33 media outlets have publicly noted Bob’s passing. Some of the ones that did more than simply run the Associated Press story include The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Times of London, NPR & MyWestTexas. In Boston, the Phoenix will run a piece in its next issue by Bill Corbett with a photograph by Elsa Dorfman. Lance Phillips has asked people to send him responses, stories, etc. for his Here Comes Everybody website. There will no doubt be many, many more memorials over the coming weeks, months, even decades.

 

As Steve Vincent noted on his own blog, such events & tales are comforting – they’re an active form of coming together. The Poetics List in particular has been filled with such tales – Harry Nudel offered an account from 1972 that I especially enjoyed, as I did many of the contributions there. My own blog received just under 1,800 visits over the last two days of March, the heaviest traffic this site has ever had.

 

Of course, nobody told tales better than Bob – he was an indefatigable conversationalist & could make the largest auditorium very much like an intimate space. There are some excellent sound files to be had both at his PENNsound & EPC pages. Hopefully somebody will eventually post his wonderful remembrance of Louis Zukofsky from last year’s LZ/100 conference at Columbia. Bob recounted his rather hapless trips out to Brooklyn as a young poet, not taking enough money to get the subway home again, unprepared for the heavy rain, and the ways in which Louis & Celia made the dripping, bedraggled young man at home. And I remember a session at a poetry conference in Tucson circa 1990 in which Bob literally recounted his dreams. Somewhere in The Alphabet is a fairly accurate representation of one of those, although not labeled as such.

 

Larry Fagin sent me a note Thursday night worth repeating here:

 

In the late 1980s, Teachers & Writers Collaborative received a grant for their writers-in-the-schools program, which paid for one-day visits by writers not working in the program. One year, Paul Auster accompanied me to a residency I was doing in Brooklyn. The next year (I believe it was 1988 or possibly '87), Robert Creeley came to a junior high on the Upper West Side, where I was in the third day of a twelve- day program. It being early in the residency, I didn't really know the kids well, and I wasn't quite sure what to do with Bob. But he seemed completely at ease, talking with the kids, and even doing some of the writing exercises. One of the assignments I gave was to write a poem titled "What I Know about Myself." Along with the kids, Bob turned in his poem, written in his characteristic hand on both sides of a sheet of lined, letter-size paper. I read it, xeroxed it and thought I had mailed the ms. back to Bob, along with some of the kids' versions of the poem. But today, going through a "Creeley" folder in my file cabinet, I discovered the original. I've just given a copy to Anselm Berrigan at the Poetry Project. Maybe you'd like to send it around, too.

 

 

WHAT I KNOW ABOUT MYSELF
 
 
I know I have been alive for over sixty years.
 
I know some people love me and some don’t.
 
I know I am like all other people because I have the same physical
    life – as hens are like hens, dogs like dogs.
 
I know I don’t know a lot that other people may well know more
    about but I’ve got to trust them to help me – as I need it, and
    vice versa.
 
I know what I am, a human, is more than what I can simply think
    or feel.
 
I know I love dogs, water, my family, friends, walking the streets
    when things feel easy.
 
I know this is the one life I’ll get —and it's enough.
 
                                 ONWARD!





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