World-reknowned poet at LU -rws -jcr -dlh

Paul Karner

In this modern age of novelty and constant change, it becomes increasingly difficult to participate in historical events. Yet, as we seek to bring some sort of progress to our respective art or discipline, we become all the more dependant on those who came before us. This coming week, Lawrence will welcome the influential poet Robert Creeley to Harper Hall to share some of his recent work and give us a glimpse into the work and life of one such significant figure.
Though Robert Creeley’s name is not one to appear on day calendars or on the inserts of pop albums, his influence on the way we view poetry today is undeniable. Creeley is most widely know as the founder of the Black Mountain poets, an intimate community of writers who lived and worked together at Black Mountain College, an experimental school located in rural North Carolina, during the 1950s. While teaching there, Creeley was the editor of the legendary *******Black Mountain Review******, which became the primary link between these poets and the rest of the literary community.
The Black Mountain Poets adopted the views of Charles Olson, the school’s founder, who saw poetry as an “open field” that had been confined for too long by old forms and idioms. Similar to experimental movements in music during this time, the Black Mountain Poets used their writings as a means of exploration, composing poems, which were much more avant-garde in their form and subjects. In a sense, Creeley helped liberate poets from the restrictions and expectations that guided many of his predecessors.
Literary scholar David Perkins describes Creeley’s poetry in his book “The History of Modern Poetry”: “He retrenched into the small and muted. His poems focused on a metaphor of complex of feeling, which planted itself in the mind. Often the sentences were illogical, elliptical, or suspended in the indefinite; they opened delicate, precisely calculated gaps, so to speak, from which suggestions of meaning were emitted.” This style of writing stood out against the openhearted, emotionally drenched writings coming from many of his contemporaries.
Throughout his life, Creeley has published over 60 books of poetry as well as a handful of short stories and novels. His list of awards and recognitions is remarkable, including being named the David Gray Professor of Poetry and receiving two Guggenheim fellowships, two Fulbright fellowships, and a number of awards from the Poetry Society of America. The list goes on, but Creeley will not be displaying medals or accolades this Thursday. Instead, he will be sharing with the Lawrence community the art to which he has dedicated his life and by which the literary world has been forever changed.
Robert Creeley will be reading some of his latest work on Thursday the 27 at 7:30 in Harper Hall. If you would like to learn more about this remarkable writer before he arrives, there will be a discussion held on Tuesday the 25 at 4:30 in Main Hall 105, led by professors Hollis and Barrett, with refreshments provided. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to connect with one of America’s greatest historical and contemporary minds. It will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable events this year.