Monday, May 25, 2009

Aimless Reading: The C's, Part 39.12 (Robert Creeley)

Creeley, Robert
The Collected Poems 
of Robert Creeley 

Another "Examination Copy" sent by the publisher, this time in hardcover. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was working on a section of Jacket devoted to Robert Creeley's work at the time of his death. The original idea was to have it ready to go for both the publication of this book and for his 79th birthday celebration here in Buffalo. As I recall, his death delayed the publication of the Collected Poems for about a year, possibly a tad longer. "On Earth" was edited by Penelope Creeley and released in the interim.

Anyhow, there was much discussion in Buffalo about how to put on a celebration of the man and his work. A bit of feuding in the UB English department, as well as some budgetary issues, caused the celebration to be postponed several times. The end result was that there were two Creeley celebrations.

The first was a community celebration in honor of his 80th birthday, which would have been May 21, 2006 (which means his 83rd would have been just the other day -- happy belated birthday, Bob!). The second was the university celebration on October 13, 2006, which occurred during the infamous "October Storm."

Creeley's 80th Celebration birthday took place at Babeville (then called simply, "The Church"), a one hundred-plus-year-old church rehabbed by Ani DiFranco and Righteous Babe Records into a spectacular performance venue, art gallery, cinema and record label offices. It was one of the first public events to take place there. For a couple of hours, local poets and friends of Creeley came to the stage, one after the other, to read poems, talk about Bob, etc. Tom Raworth, Joanne Kyger and Amiri Baraka headlined the second act. It was a pretty stirring event.

The following day Bruce Jackson screened two films he had made about Creeley at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. In fact, I think the cover photo of Creeley on the cover of this book is a still from one of Jackson's films. Another still was used in a beautiful poster we made for the event designed by Kyle Schlesinger.

You can read my account of the fall event here:

Bresson's Movies

A movie of Robert
Bresson's showed a yacht,
at evening on the Seine,
all its lights on, watched

by two young, seemingly
poor people, on a bridge adjacent,
the classic boy and girl
of the story, any one

one cares to tell. So
years pass, of course, but
I identified with the young,
embittered Frenchman,

knew his almost complacent
anguish and the distance
he felt from his girl.
Yet another film

of Bresson's has the
aging Lancelot with his
awkward armor standing
in a woods, of small trees,

dazed, bleeding, both he
and his horse are,
trying to get back to
the castle, itself of

no great size. It
moved me, that
life was after all
like that. You are

in love. You stand
in the woods, with
a horse, bleeding.
The story is true.


kevin.thurston said...

not to steal creeley's thunder, but given that r blaser just passed, what i remember most (unless i am conflating events, but this blog supports, if nothing else, memory is a tricky bugger) from that event is robin blaser in the other church and saying something about being gay (i could be inflating it, but that is fine) and then a thunder clap that was awfully loud occurred and he gave a cute lil smile from the pulpit.

there are other memories too, of walk-on piano players, founding fathers, and people driving across my lawn to avoid fallen trees, but the above is my favorite.

Michael Kelleher, Buffalo, NY said...

I don't remember what Blaser was talking about at that moment, but I do remember the thunder clap echoing through the church in the middle of his reading and how awed I felt and then while driving home through the devastation that feeling of having been sitting through the apocalypse while he read. I also remember not being able to sleep that night because the branches on all the trees were creaking, cracking, breaking off and falling onto houses, cars and telephone lines all night long!