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Robert Creeley

For the past half century, Robert Creeley has been one of America's most prominent and celebrated poets. He first made a name for himself during the '50s with several renowned collections and as the founder and editor of The Black Mountain Review, which he worked on with Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, and other young poets of the time. Creeley's voice was rather different from the dominant poetic idiom of that time, the breathless, gregarious, effusive, bebop-inspired "Beat" style which traced its stylistic ancestry back to Walt Whitman and was practiced in New York and San Francisco by the likes of Allen Ginsburg and Gregory Corso. Instead, Creeley, along with the other Black Mountain poets, crafted a graceful, economical poetic vocabulary sometimes referred to as "minimalism," which was more indebted to the pared-down approach of early 20th Century American masters like William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound.

Over the decades, as Creeley moved from Massachusetts to France to the Spanish island of Mallorca to North Carolina to San Francisco to Albuquerque to Guatemala to Buffalo, NY to Bolinas, CA to Vancouver, BC to Maine, he gradually developed into an American master in his own right, immensely respected for his ability to work in short, small strokes, to compress a great wealth of experience into a single brief phrase. In addition to his many books of poetry, he has written one novel (The Island, about his experiences in Mallorca), a collection of short stories (The Gold Diggers). He has also collaborated with a number of musicians, including jazz composers Steve Lacy and Steve Swallow and the rock band Mercury Rev. In an unexpected and delightful turn of events, Spokane/Drunk singer Rick Alverson visited the poet, now in his 70s, at his Waldoboro, Maine home, where Alverson recorded Creeley reading 15 new and uncollected poems. It's a striking collection, naked and spare, featuring nothing more than Creeley's careworn but strong voice and the occasional rustling of his pages. The CD comes with a thick booklet of text, photographs, and author's notes.

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