Lead poet's society


“What is a poet?” the 78-year-old man asked. Then, providing his own answer, Robert Creeley recited a few lines of verse.

Billed as “the greatest living American poet,” Creeley—visiting campus last week as part of the University’s Poem Present lecture series—used poetry, sometimes his, sometimes others’, to help answer questions about the art form posed by students and professors. During his one-hour talk, he touched on big-picture themes including life and death, careers, and friendship.

“Poetry is an extraordinarily useful companion,” said Creeley, professor emeritus at the State University of New York, Buffalo, seated at a small table before an audience of about 50 in Classics 10.

For Creeley—founder of the Black Mountain Review and friend to such luminaries as Allan Ginsburg, Charles Olson, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams—peer collaboration is vital to the craft. “Poetry is a team sport; you can’t play it all by yourself,” he said. “It’s like gypsies. You know each other in the world.”


April 5, 2004