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What Life Says to Us

Stephanie Burt: Robert Creeley

21 February 2008
The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley1945-75 
California, 681 pp., £12.55, October 2006, 0 520 24158 4Show More
The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley1975-2005 
California, 662 pp., £29.95, October 2006, 0 520 24159 2Show More
On Earth: Last Poems and an Essay 
by Robert Creeley.
California, 89 pp., £12.95, April 2006, 0 520 24791 4
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Selected Poems: 1945-2005 
by Robert Creeley, edited by Benjamin Friedlander.
California, 339 pp., $21.95, January 2008, 978 0 520 25196 0
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... For a spell during the 1960s, Robert Creeley’s ‘I Know a Man’ may have been the most often quoted, even the most widely known, short poem by a living American. Here is the poem: As I sd to my friend, because I am always talking, – John, I sd, which was not his name, the darkness sur- rounds us, what can we do against it, or else, shall we & why not, buy a goddamn big car, drive, he sd, for christ’s sake, look out where yr going ...

Kooked

Mark Ford

10 March 1994
Selected Poems 
by Charles Olson, edited by Robert Creeley.
California, 225 pp., $25, December 1993, 0 520 07528 5
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Selected Poems 
by Robert Duncan, edited by Robert Bertholf.
Carcanet, 147 pp., £9.95, October 1993, 1 85754 038 7
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... and Reznikoff, and of course the whole group of poets associated with Black Mountain College – Robert Creeley, Denise Levertov, Ed Dorn, Robert Duncan and Charles Olson. Of all these it was Charles Olson who engaged most directly and continuously with the implications of Pound’s poetics. The Maximus Poems can he ...

Exotic Bird from Ilford

Robert Baird: Denise Levertov

24 September 2014
Denise Levertov: A Poet’s Life 
by Dana Greene.
Illinois, 328 pp., £22.99, October 2012, 978 0 252 03710 8
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A Poet’s Revolution: The Life of Denise Levertov 
by Donna Krolik Hollenberg.
California, 515 pp., £30.95, April 2013, 978 0 520 27246 0
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Collected Poems 
by Denise Levertov.
New Directions, 1063 pp., £32.99, December 2013, 978 0 8112 2173 3
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... called her ‘one of the few people I ever completely loved at first sight’, talked her up to Robert Creeley; Creeley, who spent so much time with Levertov when they were both in Provence that his wife was sure they were having an affair, introduced her to William Carlos Williams; Williams told her that her second ...

At the Centre Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: Beat Generation

7 September 2016
... the Road’ (original typescript, 1951) Jack Kerouac, ‘The Slouch Hat’ (c.1960) John Cohen, ‘Robert Frank, Alfred Leslie, Gregory Corso’ (1959) Wallace Berman, Untitled (Allen Ginsberg, c.1960)PreviousNext These names belong to the original small group of friends who met in New York in the early 1940s. Within ten years Ginsberg had moved to San ...
20 April 1995
Shelf Life: Essays, Memoirs and an Interview 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, July 1994, 0 571 17196 6
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... care and the cunning of the style’, as he has written of Yeats’s ‘In Memory of Major Robert Gregory’, ‘its very finish’, serves ‘to place all impulsive decisions many drafts anterior to the version we read’. There is a beautiful neutrality, most of the time, in his tone. He gives nothing away. He does not know, just as the reader must ...

Pound & Co.

August Kleinzahler: Davenport and Kenner

26 September 2019
Questioning Minds: Vols I-II: The Letters of Guy Davenport and Hugh Kenner 
edited by Edward Burns.
Counterpoint, 1817 pp., $95, October 2018, 978 1 61902 181 5
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... editor in the early 1960s. It must have seemed strange to read the poetry of Pound, Williams, Robert Duncan, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Robert Creeley and Louis Zukofsky in a right-wing political journal. ‘Don’t worry about the Birch boys,’ Kenner wrote to Davenport in 1961, trying to persuade him to contribute to ...

Her Body or the Sea

Ian Patterson: Ann Quin

21 June 2018
The Unmapped Country: Stories and Fragments 
by Ann Quin.
And Other Stories, 192 pp., £10, January 2018, 978 1 911508 14 4
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... Fiction’ (all European) and ‘Modern American Fiction’ (a list that includes Burroughs, Creeley, Henry Miller and Hubert Selby Jr), but that seems to be the only time Quin’s novels were formally categorised as experimental. Paddy Kitchen was right when she wrote (in a piece in the London Magazine in 1979) that Quin ‘was not one of those authors ...

Think Tiny

Mark Ford: Nancification

17 July 2008
The Nancy Book 
by Joe Brainard.
Siglio, 144 pp., $39.50, April 2008, 978 0 9799562 0 1
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... the country’s emerging counter-culture, including Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, LeRoi Jones and Robert Creeley. It also ran a selection of the early work of a maverick graduate student in English at the University of Tulsa, Ted Berrigan. Berrigan was soon accompanying Brainard and his fellow editors, the poets Ron Padgett and Dick Gallup, on their ...

Agh, Agh, Yah, Boo

David Wheatley: Ian Hamilton Finlay

4 December 2014
Midway: Letters from Ian Hamilton Finlay to Stephen Bann, 1964-69 
edited by Stephen Bann.
Wilmington Square, 426 pp., £25, May 2014, 978 1 905524 34 1
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... Scottish Renaissance into the Beatnik era, establishing important transatlantic connections with Robert Creeley, Jonathan Williams, Lorine Niedecker and others. The break-up of his first marriage in 1964 terminated this period of relative stability, initiating the chapter of uncertainty that coincided with his first letters to Stephen Bann. At no stage ...

Ozick’s No

John Lanchester

4 February 1988
The Messiah of Stockholm 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Deutsch, 144 pp., £9.95, November 1987, 9780233981420
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The Birds of the Innocent Wood 
by Deirdre Madden.
Faber, 147 pp., £9.95, January 1988, 0 571 14880 8
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The Coast of Bohemia 
by Zdena Tomin.
Century, 201 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 09 168490 0
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... new book has just turned out to be entirely plagiarised from translations of American poets called RobertCreeley, Mezey, Bly, Lowell, Penn Warren etc. The perpetrator had sent a copy of the book to one of the translators whose work he had stolen, eliciting the response: ‘Purely original’. Then the translator reads ...
18 March 1999
Collected Poems of Vasko Popa 
translated by Anne Pennington.
Anvil, 464 pp., £12.95, January 1998, 0 85646 268 3
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... object is to transmute matter into spirit. ‘Writing is primarily an experience of language,’ Robert Creeley said, and Popa reaches back to the folk tradition of riddles, charms, proverbs, nursery rhymes and exorcisms for clues about how to make poems. What he is after are the eyes and ears of the anonymous folk poet who could hear flowers ...

Words as Amulets

Ange Mlinko: Barbara Guest’s Poems

3 December 2009
The Collected Poems of Barbara Guest 
edited by Hadley Haden Guest.
Wesleyan, 525 pp., £33.95, July 2008, 978 0 8195 6860 1
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Women, the New York School and Other True Abstractions 
by Maggie Nelson.
Iowa, 288 pp., £38.50, December 2007, 978 1 58729 615 4
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... declared, quoting Pasternak. Here she distinguished herself from her contemporaries: poets like Robert Creeley, Jack Spicer and Paul Blackburn often harked back to fraternal tropes of the knight, troubadour, jongleur. Never king. Guest’s origins were anything but kingly: born in North Carolina in 1920, she was shuffled around from town to town in ...

Use Use Use

Robert Baird: Robert Duncan’s Dream

23 October 2013
Robert Duncan: The Ambassador from Venus 
by Lisa Jarnot.
California, 509 pp., £27.95, August 2013, 978 0 520 23416 1
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... As a boy, Robert Duncan had a recurring dream. He would imagine himself in the middle of a treeless field. The ripe grass rippled, though there was no wind, and the light, as he later remembered, ‘was everywhere’, though there was no sun to be seen. Seeing himself in the centre of a circle of children, all of them singing and playing ‘Ring a Ring o’ Roses’, Duncan understood that he was ‘it’: ‘the Chosen One … a “King” or victim of the children’s round dance ...

Prize Poems

Donald Davie

1 July 1982
Arvon Foundation Poetry Competion: 1980 Anthology 
by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.
Kilnhurst Publishing Company, 173 pp., £3, April 1982, 9780950807805
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Burn this 
by Tom Disch.
Hutchinson, 63 pp., £7.50, April 1982, 0 09 146960 0
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... Akers, Peter Abbs, John Hodgen, Andrew Motion, Edwin Drummond, Gregory Harrison, Gordon Mason and Robert Ballard, Isabel Nathaniel and Peter Didsbury, Anthony Edkins and Brian Cosgrove. Several get prizes, and in particular Andrew Motion gets the big one, £5,000, for a poem that either is, or successfully if pointlessly pretends to be, documentary ...

Martian Arts

Jonathan Raban

23 July 1987
Home and Away 
by Steve Ellis.
Bloodaxe, 62 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240271
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The Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper 
by Blake Morrison.
Chatto, 48 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3227 2
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The Frighteners 
by Sean O’Brien.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240134
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... by more than half the 35 contributors, few of whom bother to make it clear whether they mean Robert Lowell, or Allen Ginsberg, or the Black Mountain imitators of William Carlos Williams. ‘The Liverpool Poets’ are regarded with a mixture of fear and derision. ‘The ranks of the illiterate raise puerile and rhythmless voices,’ wrote Roy ...

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