Monday, April 04, 2005

fired up the laptop last night to write a bit about the death of Robert Creeley, but then I read all the beautiful memories and such springing up all over the web. and decided to read instead of write. I've never met the man or corresponded with him. I came to his poetry in a kind of circular fashion. the first Creeley book I bought was Windows and I remember vividly where I read it: a crowded coffee house with Anna beside me. I remember Anna saying something about the expression on my face as I read, something like an altogether elsewhere look. I dunno what she meant at the time. but I think I know, something about the transportive found in good poetry.

so I read more and more Creeley. he is one of those writers who is deceptively simple on the surface but on further study as deeply allusive and hermetic as Stevens. so by my late 20s I was looking for something more, um, dunno, but something with a surface density I thought was lacking in Creeley. something like Celan whom I began to read heavily. but I was mistaken because soon after I picked up Creeley again, and thought, holy shit! this is it. the kind of writing I've been looking for all along: depth, american slang, allusion, a combustion rival to Celan located in the very marrow of Creeley's poems. and I've been reading him ever since.

but so much death lately. I asked a friend today what she thought was old. I mentioned that an obit writer for Hunter Thompson a few weeks ago said that the gonzo writer died at a young age, 67.

was 67 too young to die?

my friend said, hell yes, considering that we now live well into our 90s.

then what is middle-age?

your 60s, she answered.

so perhaps she is right. but it is not death I fear, no, not at all. it is the dying part that freaks me out. however, I recall an interview with Peter Matthiesen where the interviewer asked the novelist if he thinks of death. Matthiesen, who is buddhist, said, I'd like to go with the grace of a ripe apple falling from the tree.

but then he added, I may instead be clinging to life and screaming, NO! NOT YET!


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