Creeley was born in Arlington, Massachusetts, on May 21, 1926.
He attended Harvard University from 1943 to 1946, taking time
out from 1944 to 1945 to work for the American Field Service
in Burma and India. In 1946 he published his first poem, in the
Harvard magazine, "Wake". In 1949 he began corresponding
with William Carlos Williams and
Ezra Pound. The following year he became acquainted with the
poet Charles Olson.
In 1954, as rector of Black Mountain
College (an experimental arts college in North Carolina), Olson
invited Creeley to join the faculty and to edit the Black Mountain
Review. In 1960 Creeley received a Master's Degree from the University
of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Through the Black Mountain Review
and his own critical writings, Creeley helped to define an emerging
counter-tradition to the literary establishment--a postwar poetry
originating with Pound, Williams,
and Zukofsky and expanding through the lives and works of Olson,
Robert Duncan, Allen
Ginsberg, Denise Levertov, Edward
Dorn, and others.
Creeley has published more than sixty books of poetry in the
United States and abroad, including Life Death (New Directions,
1998); Echoes (1994); Selected Poems 1945-1990 (1991); Memory
Gardens (1986); Mirrors (1983); The Collected Poems of Robert
Creeley, 1945-1975 (1982); Later (1979); The Finger (1968); and
For Love: Poems 1950-1960 (1962). He has also published The Island
(novel, 1963), The Gold Diggers and Other Stories (1965), and
more than a dozen books of prose, essays, and interviews. He
has also edited such books as Charles Olson's Selected Poems
(1993), The Essential Burns (1989), and Whitman: Selected Poems
His honors include the Frost
Medal, the Shelley Memorial Award, a National Endowment for the
Arts grant, a Rockefeller Foundation grant, and fellowships from
the Guggenheim Foundation. He served as New York State Poet from
1989 to 1991 and since 1989 he has been Samuel P. Capen Professor
of poetry and humanities at the State University of New York,
Buffalo. He was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American
Poets in 1999.
Echo ( Top of Page )
It was never
simple to wait,
to sit quiet.
Was there still
another way round,
a distance to go
as if an echo
the air before
one was heard,
before a word
had been said.
What was love
and how did one get there.
Goodbye ( Top of Page )
Now I recognize
it was always me
like a camera
set to expose
itself to a picture
or a pipe
through which the water
or a chicken
dead for dinner
or a plan
inside the head
of a dead man.
Nothing so wrong
when one considered
how it all began.
It was Zukofsky's
"Born very young into a world
already very old..."
The century was well along
when I came in
and now that it's ending,
I realize it won't
But couldn't it all have been
a little nicer,
as my mother'd say. Did it
have to kill everything in sight,
did right always have to be so
I know this body is impatient.
I know I constitute only a meager voice and mind.
Yet I loved, I love.
I want no sentimentality.
I want no more than home.
The Mirror (
Top of Page )
Seeing is believing.
Whatever was thought or said,
these persistent, inexorable
make faith as such absent,
our humanness a question,
a disgust for what we are.
Whatever the hope,
here it is lost.
Because we coveted our difference,
here is the cost.