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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 42 | volume VIII | May-June, 2005



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 42May-June, 2005

Robert Creeley, 1926–2005

p. 1
Robert Adamson

Robert Creeley’s reach across time and space was generous, and he touched lives from one side of the planet to the other. Here one of Australia’s leading poets reflects on a meeting with Creeley in Sydney in 1976, and the intense literary and personal friendship that developed. This piece was first published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 16 April 2005. You can read Robert Creeley’s author notes page here, which has direct links to seven pieces by Creeley in Jacket magazine.

    Robert Creeley, who has died at 78 from pneumonia and complications from lung disease in Odessa, Texas, was one of the major American poets of the 20th century. He was a teacher, a scholar, and a fierce presence: “I look to words, and nothing else, for my own redemption either as a man or poet.”
    Just days before he died, he gave his final reading — in Charlottesville, Virginia — breathing from what he called “portable wee canisters of oxygen about the size of champagne bottles”. In between the poems Creeley said very simple things that rang true: “There has been so much war and pain during the last century. We need to learn how to be kind; kindness is what makes us human.”
    Creeley lived in Providence, Rhode Island, and was a distinguished professor of English at Brown University. The director of Brown’s arts program, Peter Gale Nelson, said of him: “Rare enough to be a great poet, even rarer to be a great person, as Robert was. He was a vibrant presence.”
    Previously, Creeley had been a professor at Buffalo University, New York State, for more than 20 years. Charles Bernstein, a poet and former Buffalo colleague, commented that “Creeley’s place in American poetry is enormous.”
    ”You can’t help but love a world in which a Robert Creeley happens,” wrote the poet Tom Pickard, a friend of his in Britain.
    Creeley had a strong influence on Australian poetry. He visited Sydney in 1976 and many remember his readings and lectures, along with his passionate and articulate performance. He wrote 60 books, of which The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley 1945–1975 (University of California Press) and his recent book, Life & Death (New Directions, 1998), are widely available here. (New Directions published his last book, If I Were Writing This, in 2003, but it is not widely available around the world.)
    Creeley turned around many students heading for self-destruction in

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