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Robert Creeley

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Robert Creeley, ‘Wow. I called it and why not:’
7 letters, 1950–1961

edited by Rod Smith, Peter Baker and Kaplan Harris

This piece is about 20 printed pages long.


These letters by Robert Creeley to William Carlos Williams, Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, and Tom Raworth, constitute a short preview of what will be The Selected Letters of Robert Creeley, to be published by the University of California Press in 2008. Peter Baker, Kaplan Harris, and I have been working on this volume since early 2004, and we were able to get input from the poet before his passing last year. We remain absolutely grieved to lack his ongoing guidance. We have so far gathered several thousand pages of correspondence and email, mainly through archival sources, but remain very much on the search. Please contact us as soon as possible at my email, aerialedge [ât] gmail [dot] com, if you have any correspondence.

In the introduction he wrote for the recent Selected Poems of George Oppen, Creeley invokes in the first sentence W.H. Auden’s famous statement, from his elegy to W.B. Yeats, “Poetry makes nothing happen… ” Whatever one may think of that sentiment, and of course Creeley quickly complicates it, it’s clear that in his letters he made things happen on a number of levels — personal, poetic, pragmatic, etc. An astonishingly prolific correspondent, particularly in the 1950s, but throughout his life — Creeley intensely documented the evolution of his poetic which was a matter for him of “the complex, this instant,” — his place and the people occupying him, always.

The first letters in this selection from the young, 25-year-old Creeley to William Carlos Williams, then 67, initiated his connection with a poet who was and remained for him a guiding poetic sensibility. We’ve also included a letter seven years on to Williams that gives a sense of the trust and ease which had entered that friendship. The Williams correspondence proves to be remarkable not only for its invaluable contribution, literally, to the poetics of our time, but also as autobiographical document. Creeley wrote regularly, but by no means weekly, or even monthly, to Williams (as he often did with other correspondents, particularly Duncan and Charles Olson), and as a result the letters are often a summation of recent developments — writings, moves, romances, literary politics — delivered in his signature tone — honest, immediate.

In the lengthy letter to Denise Levertov we see Creeley as a tenacious close-reader of the poetry written by those to whom he felt a strong connection.[1] The letter to Duncan from Black Mountain, after a return from New York, centers this selection in its references to Williams and Levertov. All this is rounded out by another letter to Duncan and an early letter to Tom Raworth, both of which illustrate “the company” of poets whose ongoing presence helped shape his writing life. As he says to Duncan, signing off — “What next. Write!”

We have chosen to keep footnoting to a minimum. Italicized text within brackets in the body of a letter indicates Creeley’s handwritten additions. Standard type within brackets, e.g. “[Franz] Kline,” indicates our editorial apparatus. If marginal comments appear, handwritten or typed, they are presented at the end of the letter.

— Rod Smith

We would like to acknowledge the kind permission and support of Penelope Creeley, Laura Cerruti at the University of California Press, Tom Raworth, and the following institutions:

William Carlos Williams Papers. Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Denise Levertov Papers. Courtesy of Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries.

Robert Duncan Papers. The Poetry Collection of the University Libraries, State University of New York at Buffalo.


To William Carlos Williams (February 11, 1950)

Littleton, N. H.
February 11, 1950

Dear Dr. Williams,
     This letter will be in some sense an intrusion, since it will assume that you will have time to read it and to give some thought to the request which it will make. Its only excuse is the fact of your own work and interest in poetry.
           To be brief, I’d like to ask you for your help with respect to a magazine I’d like to get going some time this summer. The magazine will attempt these things: (1) to provide an outlet for prose, poetry & critical work and to present it in a way that will avoid undue emphasis on the writers’ present position in the literary hierarchy; (2) to present criticism which reinforces understanding of the poetry & prose used and to have the latter serve as a demonstration of the attitudes implicit in the critical work; (3) to have the magazine’s entity as a critical attitude be coherent and recognizable to its readers. I don’t know if this is enough, or too much, for a magazine’s ‘general program’ but it’s the only one which occurs to me as being of any practical use. I know I have little liking for magazines that don’t use such a program and since I find myself about to edit one, no other policy falls to hand.
           In any event, whatever you yourself might be able to contribute, prose or poetry, would be very gratefully received. To be frank, I’ve put myself to school with your work, can think of very few others who’ve written verse comparable to your own, and would be honored to have you represented in the magazine. The only thing I don’t like is the need to couple that appreciation with a request for a contribution.
                                                                             Yours sincerely,

                                                                                        Robert Creeley

To William Carlos Williams (February 27, 1950)

February 27, 1950

Dear Dr. Williams,
           Very, very glad to have your letter, i.e., it helps. At this point it gets to be a question of material, what I can get hold of, and being here, away from the centers, real or imagined, it’s a problem. I don’t know how much of it one can do with letters but at least those I’ve sent have brought answers of varying sorts. And it’s to the point to mention that people like yourself and Wallace Stevens are freer with their reputations than those who are still worried about being printed in Harper’s, etc. Anyhow, things move a little.
           The idea, or better, what I take as the idea of any of this, has much to do with the flabbiness of PR and magazines like PR. And on that score, it’s a question of having a magazine that has the nucleus I mentioned in the last letter, that much anyhow, which will have to depend on demonstration to get around the sounding generalities involved in talking about it. I’m acquainted with some of the West Coast magazines where I’m told ‘poetic activity is humming, etc.’ and would agree that this, simply this, isn’t much to the point, if at all to the point. The kind of outlet which they maintain, which they maintain they maintain, is of the kind that comes up, usually, when A or B can’t get printed, etc., and so print themselves, this leading to an eventual distortion of their own position, the old dead end. Anyhow, not that.
           To begin with, I spent some time the last week, looking over what little mags I have here, in an attempt to work something out of them, to learn, one way or the other, what was good or bad about any of them or all of them. Briefly, it comes to this; that magazines like WAKE, etc., come to little because of no center, no point, if you will, beyond a collection of ‘available’ material, printed without much of an eye as to why A should come after B, and so on. And this leads to embarrassment all around. An instance, or so it seemed to me: the kind of eclecticism that prompts the HUDSON REVIEW to print Valery, Stanislaus Joyce, & some comment on Ezra Pound all in one issue. Here missing, that Valery may be grouped verbally with Joyce et alii, but suffers in being printed even with an indirect representation of this other next to him. It comes to the kind of logic that would delight in a big fat book, Dostoyevsky, Mann, Shakespeare, etc. etc., all under one cover. Or like the college intelligence that points with some pride to a course on Proust, Mann, & Joyce with, by way of an introduction, Eliot’s Wasteland. I can remember with some pleasure Prof. Levin’s progress through this particular instance. Anyhow, this is an indication of what poor editing can amount to, what incongruities can be found.
           So, on the other hand, I would find in magazines like KENYON, etc., at least a very shrewd & usually able, at least for their own purposes, editorial hand. Here everything blends, if you will, and alien & conflicting criticism is never less at home, nor more crude, than when allowed in, by way of a ‘fair’ representation of both sides of the question. In any event, this kind of worldliness is to the point, that being, to have some apprehension of what you have got on your hands and what you can do with it. And is a means of survival, this kind of editing, preserving its bridges, as it does, establishing attitudes.
           To get back to my own problem, about money, means in general: this thing began way of suggestion to a friend of mine [Jacob Leed] who had just got himself a printing press in Pa., that he, having the means, use them to print a magazine. For the past five or so years, this had been an idea we’d both had, and beyond the usual college friendships, etc., I would say he and one or two others would be those I still have and not by way of the usual college friendships, etc. This beside the point, but to suggest some knowledge of each other, etc., and what we might be up to. Anyhow, this much of his letter would be to the point here: ‘… an immediate limited objective to start with, though ‘no point of view’, no attitude to start with. For the prose and poetry – selected by taste and if anything real was being talked about in the critical selection. the p & p could not help but have some relevance & connection to it – or rather vice versa… ’ This being the idea of demonstrating rather than beginning with a problematic manifesto that will limit any kind of development that comes from the act of editing, the act of selection. It doesn’t imply a literal lack of attitude, since the act of selection is a demonstration of attitude, like it or not.
           So far as qualifications go, he worked with printers for some time, both of us have had stints on college magazines (the Harvard Wake, mine being at the laying away of E.E. Cummings), both of us are now busy with work other than literary and if this last isn’t a necessary qualification, it helps. He’s doing butchering, etc., for a locker plant, deep-freezing, and I am a poultry man of sorts when not writing, etc. I don’t know if this is to the point, any of it, but I mention it by way of getting to, again, the source of my own discontent with current little mags, and the reasons, again, why I’d undertake to introduce another. Many things annoy me in the former, that is, the insular criticism, the literary tone, the ‘littleness’ of much that they print. Since I have my own concerns with poetry, I don’t read with much pleasure the many instances of impacted imagery, for lack of a better name, I hit; all the images, all the words. Little or no force, little or no reason. Not simply to disparage, but to suggest, to insist that this level of verse isn’t an end, to be aimed at, to be ‘representative’. And the implications of a ‘return to form’, being in that sense a ‘going back’, and not, as it must be, a development, invention, new use. And language, or a dichotomy of language as it now is, split & emasculated. Where criticism is a kind of witty implication of value, that may, or may not, exist. What is all this, anyhow, that being about. And at least that much for impetus.
           So you say ‘how in the hell can you do it’. What else is there to do? Giving up this isn’t simple, although waited, like they say, long enough. And also like they say, now is the time, etc.
           So for now, it’s the problem of getting material, getting enough to be able to work it into a first issue, to be able to demonstrate some of that assumed taste, etc. To make it an evidence. There are, as there would be, one or two, I can get work from, which I’d want to print. But to make it into something that can be noticed in point of size is a little more difficult. I don’t want it unwieldy, but 60 or so pages or a little less, would give room for everything and not be too big or too little. Something you could pick up. Summer is still the time we’d like to publish a first issue. I think we can make it. Anyhow, your own interest goes for something here. And your advice.
           Forgive me for taking so long with this. I suspect that you are busier than you say, having had doctors and nurses in the family. They are busy people. So again thank you for taking the time to write; should welcome a letter whenever you can find time for it. And should add that either poetry or prose will be very welcome.
                                                                             Yours sincerely,
                                                                             [signed — Robert Creeley]

To William Carlos Williams (January 1, 1957)

c/o 610 Central SE
Albuquerque, N.M.

January 1, 1957

Dear Bill,
           I’ve meant to write often, to thank you for your letter, as always – also to tell you how things had been.  I got a job here teaching in September, which has had the use of giving me a means to eat for the moment – and also to pull myself together, for some more concerned attack.  Perhaps it’s the very formalism of how I acknowledge such things, that separates them so much at times from me – I don’t know.  For awhile I was certain I had fallen into a means of living, i.e., the teaching, which was both reasonable and sufficient, even to the hope of a family; but restlessness or not, that soon enough became nothing (per se) actually for the 1st, except for the delight that teaching a language I don’t at all  know sometimes gives qua improvisation (like they say), and caring too much for the 2nd.  Tomorrow I start work again, there are 6 classes a day: English 7, French 8, English I, French I-A, French I-B, and English 8 – all of which jargon means 12 to 14 year old boys, about 10 to 15 in a class, a finally lethally oriented group of eventual people.  That is in fact very interesting, and (selfishly) makes the year no matter: the facts of a society which these ‘children’ at times provide. About ½ have no fathers, either widows or divorced, etc.  There is no clear social ‘referent’ at all here, eg. Albuquerque is both new in the sense that it’s the atomic city, from 50 thousand to over 150,000 in less than 10 years – and also is New Mexico, less than 50 years a state, and Mexican, Indian, and Anglo, etc.  The kids give vivid occasion to see this, very often,  Teaching them french ( of all things) is often to see what ‘artificiality’ can effect – and leads to awareness (to call it that) of why clothes, this way of speaking, that hat & so forth – very much.  But I can’t clearly do it forever – and another year (because at the moment I have to tell the ‘headmaster’ whether or no I think to stay) would mean didacticism at best, and repetition, staleness, and – I don’t really want any of it very much.  It has or so I hope satisfied a fear that I couldn’t’ manage, i.e. could not hope to earn enough either for myself or the family I can in my imagination sometimes find – I see that it’s either easy, or hard, and not very much at all can be seen before the literal occasion.  My salary, of 250 a month after taxes (!), has been adequate, has in fact allowed me to rent a comfortable house & to buy an old car – but again, I don’t really want the literal size & bulk of either one attached to me.  I was most content in a way, with the big knapsack I got in San Francisco, and also the sleeping-bag purchased in the same place.  So – so much for salaries; and having the need for same, I think I can do it, eg. earn food & the like.

More to the point, I’m just back from Mexico, in which I rode endlessly on buses, - really delighted, and tongue-tied, but trying at least to speak spanish, sitting as straight in the seat as possible – god knows looking at all I could.  I went from Juarez 2nd class to Durango, then to Mazatlan – by luck straight through the mountains, over 10,000 feet up, with drop-offs of 3 to 4000 feet on every other turn, and the driver (Indian) at one point putting the bus into neutral & letting it roll!  It was good, i.e., the ‘why not’ – not caring, ‘about such a thing’ – the whole bus completely unconcerned.  We went through towns I wouldn’t have believed possible, labor towns so remote, hovels of rough cut lumber, all grey, kids running after us, everything in god’s world getting on the bus, from ‘conchitas’ to one actual mad man (who cried so loudly at its being cold, he kept the whole bus awake, sullenly etc).  In Mazatlan (too much like a deserted ‘spa’) I decided to keep moving, and went to Guadalajara – I spent Xmas eve in a cheap hotel, on the Calzado, 1st floor facing street – lying in bed tired out & reading Beckett’s Malone Dies (and thinking it small, tired, and not enough).  The next morning I took another bus to Barra de Navidad, on the west coast below Manzanillo – following Mitch & Dennie Goodman [i.e. Mitchell Goodman and Denise Levertov], who had left the city to spend the holiday there, Mitch having gone some time before to copy his novel & correct it I guess. The trip was another 12 hours, a dirt road – wonderful towns with huge cathedrals, always broken & falling apart (at one I watched a group of women with babies, waiting I guess to have them baptized, poinsettias & the like growing around the bars of the fence (iron) surrounding, two boys coming then to pull on a long rope, that came down from the (broken) bell town, to make the clock (as it happened) strike three (in the afternoon) – then, at last, when the women had gone in (a high large wooden double door), I looked to see a big grey pig looking out through the gate, at the people going by.)

I got to Barra de Navidad about 9 it must have been, all dark – the town is a line of low thatched ‘houses’, on a strip of land between the sea (at the front) and a lagoon (at the back).  There are ‘hotels’, for people from Guadalajara, etc. I was given a room, like a huge crypt, with no windows, dirt floor (I think), an army cot, and a candle & table, - and could hear the sea all night, hitting the beach about 50 feet from where I was sleeping.  I found the hotel where Mitch and Dennie were staying, and found they had contrived to get the upper floor of an old building opposite, so went up through the dark, down a rickety corridor, toward the glow of a light & voices from behind a door – and knocked to find Mitch reading to their son, and at last could say Merry Christmas, to people I love, and hope to show care for, somehow. Dennie appeared, wonderfully, in a wrapper, from the next room – she had said to Mitch, what if I can etc – it was all very good.  So we were able to spend two days talking, she showed me her new poems, written in an oblong copybook, with a picture of a tiger on the cover – beautifully dense thick poems, from a world that grows surer, on her, very much so.  We lay on the beach all day, when hot went in, then back again, endless sand & water, a small bay stretching out, to the open sea – tropical, e.g. papayas, coconuts, strange birds, lots of pigs, also some beautiful young women I couldn’t take my eyes off – and sat (we ate dinner all in a big room, i.e., the ‘visitors’) watching one girl’s long hair, thick and heavy down her back, who also turned to look at me, often, in spite of herself, she was so curious, and had huge black eyes, very attentive & wide open with her curiosity.  It was a relief, all of it – I have it seems so ‘contained’ myself, so intentionally, so long (although it’s been 4 months only).  At one point, on the beach one early afternoon, Dennie had not put her bathingsuit on but was wearing a summer dress – she wanted to swim with us, and suddenly ran in, laughing and it was very damn lovely to see – she was dripping, laughing, her hair wet, and the dress wet and hanging to her as she came stumbling (gracefully) out. Ah well. It was hard to leave.  But I’ve come back (not ‘at least’ but) quietly enough – a test thereof was or is, that the ‘headmaster’ just came a minute ago, to wish me a ‘happy new year’, and I could reply decently enough, because he is a decent enough man, knowing I’ll be telling him this week I’m leaving & so forth, i.e. I don’t ‘agree’). Anyhow – to complete the so-called contract to try to save a little money, wherewith to move again in June, I think to Oaxaca, where I can live cheaply and also, Mitch tells me, hope to earn a living teaching English to covetous Mexicans, who have the advantage of being adult, their own, to make what use they will of – hence not the sometimes pitifully undefended thing of being a child still caught in vindictiveness of a (failing) adult pattern.

I thought of your, ‘I am a poet. I am. I am . . .’   I don’t want any other ‘excuse’.  God knows a trade, of some sort – perhaps teaching can provide it, I like the improvisation that at least a new occasion each time gives room for  - anyhow there are ways I find to eat & I had worried about it.  My ‘old’ life gets far away, though at times painfully close too, in dreams, say – or the like.  Anyhow, the image of what is left of the 'family’ I lived in, we lived in, is hard to manage – not the children, who must be happy there in New England, sliding now, snow, woods etc, that has to be good – but Ann [MacKinnon], who wrote me a day ago: “It’s pretty dull going. I’m learning to trade on the stock market on a pittance.  Much reading of the Wall Street Journal and no profits. A neighbor is giving me lessons . . .” She was the first woman I ever made love to, which I don’t know if I wear like a cross or a flower – though I hope.  She was an orphan and I was a hick. It was pretty great, like they say. I was going to be a writer, and we lived on 215 a month she got from a trust fund no less, - like heavenly bird droppings.  Embarrassed continually, that I did not ‘support’ her and the children – but equally endlessly covetous & anxious, of the time it gave me. I suppose. One time when she miscarried, I delivered what there was, of the baby; one time a baby born to us prematurely died in NH, and I & the undertaker buried it, in a plain white pine box, in a hole in a local cemetery (on the road to Littleton).  It’s hard to let go of it – the intention really, partly the man’s part perhaps, at least of the hoping. Not being able to admit that the Wall St J/ is suitable reading for a woman as lovely as she often & must be. As this New Year’s Day (no rhetoric) it would truly be a new world, again, were we able still to look for one another.  But who is she, like they say - and likewise, who am I.  There seems a lot to do; for my part, I’d like to find a wife this year & write a ‘novel’ at last.  Thanks for the strength your own gives me – a hard thing to ever say, but true, continually.  I hope all goes well for you.  And – to end the rambling – I have your notes on Ford & Marsden Hartley safe, and the magazine itself ought to be out with luck early spring (it is now, partly, at the printer’s in Mallorca).

Happy New Year & my love to you
& your family,
[signed – Bob]

To Denise Levertov (April 22, 1951)

[Editorial note: Unusually this letter contains superscript numerals which are part of Creeley’s original typescript; we have chosen to represent them in that manner. As there are a few footnotes identifying quoted texts which are our own we trust the reader’s ability to distinguish as Creeley’s use of superscript becomes clear in context.]

April 22/ 51

Dear Denny,
           Very pleased to have yr letter; an answer to the last just mailed, & so won’t go into same biz again (i.e., the house, etc.).

Fruitless enough, to go on arguing the biz of ‘frenzy’ – but if only to have the last word (which I very well know, I won’t), I make this logic for those other comments. Take it this way, or break it down, so: one can have (among a variety, larger) at least 2 kinds of ‘essence’ for any thing, coming to exist in his writing (& here, of course, it’s poetry we are thinking of) – & by ‘essence’, I mean those solids, which come to make substance for the given poem, etc. Simply, materials & the presence given to them, in the work.
                                            So, then: (for our use) 2, 2 kinds. And the first, let’s make it: of the instant, having no ‘history’ beyond the given context, no attachment to an external set of actions or premises (& it should be made clear, this is not to confine the possible associations, but rather to make clear, emphases) which the reader might be given, in another instance, by either implication, or overt reference.
                                            In other words, like this:
“Then see it! in distressing
details—from behind a red light
at 53rd and 8th… ” [2]
                      That is, here, in this instance, the emphases all fall to the immediate, to that instant, of coherence, of the thing, just here, just in this one context, being: NOW.

                                                                  Like, Williams, most of his work (the example being, also, from him) where the fact is , NOW, is of, this instant, & the ‘history’ is, for that time, put down. And all falls, comes to bear, on this complex, of the instant, & all ‘value’ gets its weight from precisely, this complex – which is to say, no ‘prior value’ can ‘act’ in this complex.
                                            Well, 2, that is, another way for it. Think, first, of two phrases: “the aged oak… ” & “that place, where we had been… ” The first, by an adjective (aged) implies a history, which the context, in all probability will make use of. This is the language of, recall, of, then, the mnemonic, wherein (usually) a shifting thing is held, the flux being, between this present & that past. Well, you must know the usual uses, of same. The second example is abt the same thing; the phrase, “where we had been… ”, implying again, a ‘past’, which again probably, will be exploited in the poem’s whole.

           Now, when I argue this biz, of ‘frenzy’, & whether or not, say, this palm tree cd be, so, itself, the act of frenzy, & by token of such, for that instant, what the act is, and/or, itself, the tree, in fact this frenzy – it’s clear enough, I’m pushing off from this biz of the, the instant; which is to say, the palm tree, here, is & insists on being, an entity held in, this instant, held just so, there, in the immediacy, of its context. It doesn’t matter, say, whether an old woman had planted it to commemorate the birth of a child, to her, at the age of 88; or if, as well, this same storm came, finally, to uproot it; or even if, by vote of the town, it was decided to move it precisely 1 mile SSW, from its present site.
                                                                  And so, even the more reasonable ‘history’ you tell me of, that is, “most of the time… as calm as could be… ”, is, as well, irrelevant for the reader (or the writer, in the act of sd poem). [<— is not true, finally, but the other is – and is, the point.]
                                 All that does come to matter, here, is what, precise, this palm tree is, in the poem’s entity, what, there, it is, what there, its presence.
                      And that seems abt the end of it. Tho this much more, to make clear I have no argument against a mixture, of this biz of, recall, coupled with the other, of the instant. Well, this very wonderful example:

“The blossoms of the apricot
           blow from the east to the west,
And I have tried to keep them from falling… ”[3]

                                                                  That is, there, so hinged, held, the instant against the matter of all time, or of all action -- & the care: a lifetime, & the loss: eternity.
                                                       (It is Pound & the words, Kung, & here, or in just this: the sum of all his work.)

Well, enough of it. Ok.

                      (But it seems I can’t yet shut up, or, this much to show you where it cd get ridiculous:

“How the bucket, this rust,
the edge of it, that redness
                                            being Mary who had left it out in the rain
                                            that time we all went picking blue-berries
                                            up on Foster’s hill…

Is present, is the
color of
present, has no time but
           tho it is almost 5 yrs old
           & is pretty good even yet
           under the circumstances.”

                                                       (Creeley/ unpublished mss(hit)!)
Ok. Is enough.

           Anyhow, a confusion, when it comes to exist, between where the ‘presence’ is to be [emphasized], either of past, or or present, can fuck you up, but good. But wd make it clear: this hasn’t a damn thing to do with sd poem, & sd palm-tree, more than to make my logic for taking this palm tree, ONLY in the PRESENT the poem insists on. Ok.

On the new one: a hard thing for me to figure (if only because I had the lines of the other 2, in my ear, before I saw, in yr letter, it was made from them). Anyhow, one or two things (which, damn well let me insist, are only what comes, immediately into my head, being my, head, & so that limit, etc., etc., etc.)
                                 One thing: certain things here & there, seem (in some sense) to break out of what ‘pattern’ of coherence the poem has. It’s a hard thing to lay out, & perhaps best to make a copy here, marking by ‘( )’, what bothers me (& following up same, with some more notes).

as rain’s first spitting
words on the pavement)
pick out
                      the core of violence
give it back

(aware of2 (cool dawns) paused
over strident avenues
3(come in simplicity unnoticed))

iron satyrs stamping
in desire
jagged heads
pushed up

the city: inordinate!
red honey on its towers

spring evenings in sea light
facades relax
    & always nightfall can impose
a fantasy on the black air
   chips of light
           flashing scattered

4 (but many fathoms down
men are walking
in clefts of hacked rock –
are running
jostled in dirty light from5 (far above)
(reflected light) –
are dying
  the derelict & the diamond-sharp)

speak to them!

words must beat
(iron heart of the unconscious street)
until a child might echo

6(until a man looks up: angel)
under the unturned stone:

kick it away!

1/ a confusion of my own, i.e., is the rain spitting out words (as a figure, of speech), or are these words, there, like the rain is, on, literally, the pavement (as that impetus, to them, i.e., so available in that ‘place’), or are the words in the ‘men’, implied as being there, because there are words? Anyhow: I confess to no clear pick-up, on the base sense of this section, & further, do not think a poem picks up quickly enough if its beginning is, as this is, a simile.

2/ a minor thing; mainly that ‘cool dawns’ comes to my senses, as a generalized specific, i.e., it implies an immediate sensing somewhat put out into generality – primarily that neither ‘cool’ nor ‘dawns’ are, in themselves, forceful enough to carry the image. The contrast, i.e., where it seems the words do carry such: strident avenues’, tho, again, there’s a little of the cliché in it, too.

3/ I get this ok, now; I didn’t at first, that is, because of my own wondering of who it is, is the subject of these lines (i.e., who it is that is “aware”), I had wondered, at first, if this line was an address to a third person (which seems somewhat ridiculous now). But to make a comment on all of this section: are the avenues strident, when these dawns come?, at that time?, of day? Because there is no ‘superior’ context to enforce the image, against a ‘literal’ truth here, i.e., nothing that can twist the context out of a literal exposition of these dawns, in a literal place; hence, NYC, say, or any city similar, at 5am, & is such a city, then, strident?

4/ my only question abt this section, taken as a lump, is: IS this the central image, is it to be such? I.e., it’s not a question of if it does the work, etc., being, it can as well as any other. The question: how many figurations can you work on this street, before its own actuality is muddled? As, say, image 1: street & the rain hitting it, that cleanness, etc., I mean, cleanness, of the hit (not that is washed, etc.); image 2: hot noisy streets (as opposed to, “cool dawns”); image 3: city, in its height, brute, iron, lust & power, etc.; image 4: a mixture of this sea-light, & an electric light (as of, flashes, perhaps, thunder storm, lights (tho only to suggest, the possible parallel), I mean, electric, flashes, precisely yr: “flashing scattered”; image 5: the sea city, under, pressure of water, light filtering down, reflected, the acts, in that light; image 6: hardness, streets, as of iron, metal, hard core, of the ‘heart’, under, streets, or more simply, that is, we are back to the literalities; image 7: almost the of ‘proverbial’, or mythic, , i.e., (DON’T leave a stone unturned, etc.), an ‘air’ of this mythic, of angels, & men, as those for whom angels can be, & the child, as the innocent, etc., & so on.
                                             I do all this only to suggest the number of images, thru which a reader is compelled to move, & that further fact, he’s given no central one, call it, on which to base his references, etc. Because the street is metamorphosed from the very 1st line, etc., & is never given time to be: “street”, etc.
                                 (at the end of these notes, want to take up a main head, which comes in, precisely, in this section.)

5/ my only question: is it too vague, this phrase? Perhaps the ‘vagueness’ serves a use, but anyhow, my question.

6/ two senses come to me, here, & I am wary, frankly, of both. Well, 1) that this man, with the stone off, becomes angel, or 2) finds angel [under stone]  – & the thing, that the gain, of either, seems rather vague, or perhaps only that, angel, strikes little in me, unless substantiated (viz Blake, et al).

To get back, & wd again repeat, that these comments are only my own inexactness, i.e., only where the poem gets out of my reach, etc.

The thing: yr strongest image hits me, as being this sea-one, I mean, it is the one in which action & development takes place – it runs, then, not as an extension, as of, horizontal [like this does —>]
           “the board like a line
           the head like a melon
           the sand like a sky”
but rather, is, base root: [like this  —>]
                                            “the sea, in its distance, marks
the line of wonder, where rise, the several
angels, or wonder, of
these fish, marking a coastal range
of, etc., etc., etc.”
                      which is only to show, how angels & fish, et al, might assert a co-existent, a simultaneous, presence.

                                                       Which is the problem here, i.e., that this one sea-image, of these men, these lives, under it, takes on a central weight. Now, see what happens as the poem moves on, from this point.
                                 You say, mark you: “speak to them!” That is, speak to them, these men (and where are they???), ‘many fathoms down’, & that’s the damn rub, i.e., that they are, these whom you wd address, very much in the substance of this prior image, & no immediate way to get them out. So yr speech, involves men still under the sea, as far as yr reader is concerned, and so, frankly, all subsequent action is trying to shake off such, as no man cd reasonably kick off a stone, many fathoms down, etc.

                                            You see the kick? Well, myself, I take it as the result of a [developed] metaphor which has been treated as tho it were a simile, that is, as tho it did not, itself, assert a continuum, of action, etc.,
(To explain same: a simile has no reality beyond that which it’s the ‘extension’ of: to wit – a head like a melon. The underlined has no existence, minus head. MORE, it can allow of any number of OTHER similes attached, as it is, to the SAME referent. As: a head like a melon, like a football, like a overripe peach. That is, each, in turn, in turn ride back, clearly, to head, & there’s no fight, of any import, between them.

But, metaphor: is something else again. Take it so:

“(Sun) The ball of fire falls & gashes against the substance of the land, burning there, its myriad fuels… ”

I can’t then say, with out trouble.

                                 “The place where all are warm, where
                                 there’s no heating problem, where it’s summer every day.”

You just can’t side, against a developed metaphor (as yrs is), any other action that doesn’t admit of its own ‘conditions’.

                                            Well, metaphor can be so sided, IF its referent runs clearly at the head. Like this:

“He was a brute, a lion, a beast, of courage, a veritable jungle of lust” (altho, even there, the shift to ‘jungle’, & that other ‘basis’ for action’ is apt to disturb… )

                                            Well, the rub, as I take it, here: that this metaphor, of the sea-land, sticks too good, its too damn fine, if such can be! What it does: fuck up all other similes, & actions in the poem, as it does fight with them, for the BASE reality. Ok. And that seems abt it.
                                            (But note, anyhow, that in the poem, the “main action” (in literal terms of, he bought 7 apples, & then went to a movie & then, came home), occurs in this passage. Hence, the effect of such does impose its presence on all other ‘actions’, & most notably: that of the end.

                                 Wd say, either 1) make of this sea-image, the full thrust of the poem, i.e., make it the center, & push it to the limit; or 2) break it back to simile as (as rain’s first spitting, or even as other adjectives, etc.) such. Now, there are too many scatters, of adjective, of metaphor, of action, etc. And no prime, to which to refer same, but that implied, implicated in, such phrases as: “pick out the core of violence, etc.” You don’t have sufficient force, in these, to carry the relation of these other things to them, i.e., one slacks off.

                                                                  To hell with it, for now – I say too much, anyhow, & expect it’s: total confusion. Anyhow, do think that the problem is: 1) over-reach of this section noted (as developed metaphor, etc.); 2) under-play of base referent, action, for reader to be string these metaphors, actions, on. Ok.

It’s almost torture, to break these things out, at this distance. I see my own slackness, but how to get them back to 5 pages later without making it a morass of confusion (a veritable jungle! ha). Anyhow, it does seem finally, gain, to clear these things somehow, because I do insist: 1) an idea of what ‘energy’ is, in a poem, 2) What can break this ‘energy’ down, 3) all the related heads – all these things must be got to, not, finally & lord help us if they become so as dogma, as that rigidity, of attitude or practice, but altogether as the necessary clearing of a few possibly pertinent premises on which the act, final, of poetry might come to rest comfortably. And it’s into this same collection, call it, the notes of metaphor, et al, can go. Only a few damn things, christ knows, that seem to re-occur in poetry & seem, as well, to make trouble each time they do. And so, the tentative observations. Ok.

Which ends me, for the moment. (I never thot I’d get thru it, damn frankly! I mean, my notes – & make same plain. I don’t figure the poem can’t be cleared. Myself, I wd be curious to see what this undersea biz might get to, pulled out whole, that is, let loose to run to whatever force it contains: that thrust, of same. Now, she’s a poem, within, a poem, & it’s a tough one, etc. Well, I don’t want to take off all over again, so will drop her, just here.

Will bring the Olson bklet/[4] also, hope soon, or someday, to have the new one – Emerson has been damn near a yr on same, as it is. Someday. But will have stuff, anyhow, with me. Very much wish I cd bring recording of his reading – is the end! But, cannot at the moment see the use of lugging along such equipment as wd be necessary to hear it: to wit – recorder unit, simplifier, & speaker.

                                                       Also, a copy of ORIGIN[5] off to you, with this mail.

So abt it. Figure Bereaved [6] is a good one, & don’t want to finger same further, i.e., you have all I cd think of, to object to, in same, & this can get ridiculous, if I set out to badger, etc.

                                                       I find I didn’t mail that other letter, so will stick it in here. So / this for now. Will get back to it soon.

                                                       Yrs/ in chaos:
                                                                  [signed - Bob]

[Handwritten above salutation] Have not read any Ford - will be borrowing some from you when we get in.

To Robert Duncan (September 24, 1955)

September 24, 1955

Dear Robert,
                      I owe so many letters I begin to blush, but let’s get the goddamn business straight first, after which I can tell you of my journey to New York, etc. That check from Ida Hodes, together with the addresses of the people who had ordered, was received safely, and deposited in Ann’s account. The only announcement for your book I’ve yet had, was one you had enclosed in a letter; but I should think the bulk of the shipment ought to get here shortly, and I’ll then mail them out to your list, plus what Jonathan [Williams] & I have, etc. Today I had another letter from Ida H/ enclosing a check for $6.00 (3 more orders) & addresses; and also an order from Harvard, for a limited edition. If you can mail them a copy there, enclosing invoice (i.e., Divers Press, 1 Caesars Gate @ $10.00, etc), I’ll take care of the paper work from here, i.e., bill them and see that you get the money. Otherwise I have an order & check ($2.00) from Larry Eigner, which I’ll also deposit in Ann’s account. I think Jonathan has one or two orders independently, so that’s a little more to count on - perhaps. Anyhow I checked with him, and try to keep the whole thing clear, i.e., $$$-wise. Ok. I’ll send you a list of names & addresses of all people who have ordered, as soon as I have a minute here, i.e., am just back & class starting, and usual hellish confusion. But I won’t forget it. As to your manuscripts - nothing to date, but I shouldn’t worry. It takes 3 weeks to a month, sent straight mail. A package from Ann just arrived, which seems to be papers - and it may be Jess’ ms/ is with them. In any case, I’ll check all such things very soon.

So. New York was god knows a relief, if a very exhausting one. I had two very pleasant visits with Zukofsky. I like him very much, and found it possible to talk immediately. Also, his wife and son were a great pleasure. I looked over, like they say, quite a bit of ‘A’, and also ‘Bottom’, and will have about 25pp of this 2nd section for the coming issue - plus a poem sequence I had taken earlier, ‘Songs of Degrees’. I also heard him read some of the poems, from ‘A’ and earlier collections, i.e., he had a record made when reading on the West Coast, and this was very interesting. I’m actually still engaged, very much, by that time you played Marianne Moore for me; and have since listened to, I hope carefully, her reading In District of Merits. That structure is extremely close I think, or is to what I sense (if I can’t take hold of it) as my own concern. In terms of this, Zukofsky is also relevant - god, is he a close writer! For example, ‘A’-9, if you read it. Anyhow all of it was a relief, after my harassments here - and/or to sit down to this character of conversation and concern. What else stays, at that. ‘Devotion’ I damn well suppose is it, as you say. Anyhow it gave me a friend.

I also went out to see Williams, along with Dennie and Mitch; and that was an equal pleasure. He seemed better, insofar as health goes, than he did a year ago. He has a book coming next month (the ‘Of Asphodel’ plus some shorter poems) and is working otherwise on a couple of stories & a play. He gave me the ms/ of that opera he mentions in the Autobiography; but it turns out witches & communism, and not too happy. He is a goddamn curious juxtaposition of qualities literal ‘qualities’ I think. He was in any case god knows generous; I like him, very much. There are literally instants when I feel myself speaking with him altogether; and then actually a vacuum. Dennie had persuaded me to bring out a record Charles & I made here, a year ago, to play for him; which we did, and clearly he was moved, by it, i.e., he got the poems as obviously the page had never given them to him. And spoke, then, of how it changed everthing - and I thought of Kenneth Lawrence B/ of course. Yet, at one point following, he took my arm and said, you have a right to demand what is necessary to you for fulfillment, it’s not as though you have been ‘static’. . .  And after the hell of the past months, there and here - I cared to hear that, as you may suppose. Hearing of Ann’s and my separation, I had to tell him at last else we could not speak clearly enough - Z/ said, might we write her a letter. I want not to hurt these people, over and over, Robert. Sometimes it seems I’m a solicitor simply for ‘sympathy’. Z/ said something too about, perhaps the gentleness in your face will be hard enough, to show her. He walked with me to the subway till at last we were standing there, shaking hands, over the turnstyle. Both said to bring her, - jesus, they don’t know, poor devils, in their own right - there is nothing to ‘bring’ anymore anywhere. But I was very moved that they made that try to help. I am soon going to be beyond all this altogether, if anything at all is to happen.

Otherwise, I saw dozens of people it seems. The time with Dennie and Mitch was very good; her mother looks like aging & alert elf, etc. They say they are going to Mexico almost certainly in January. I saw Al Kresch briefly, who was just back from Europe. I had several very pleasant evenings drinking beer with [Franz] Kline, who tells very damn good stories, eg., a lady and her lover are in bed together, when there is a sound of footsteps on the stairs, whereupon the lady answers, oh yes, here comes old Nosey, now everybody in town will know about it . . . Ah well. I stayed at Julie’s for a few days, the same things happened, i.e., on way to see Cocteau’s Blood of a Poet with her, we passed lady wheeling fat baby in large carriage, holding two cards in his hand - and when we passed, I looked back to see what they were, and could only see one: the 4 of hearts. So that was a happy introduction to that scene in the film, which I’d never seen before this. And so on. These things take on such a persistent quality in her company, I can never remember them all. I also saw Joel Oppenheimer, and others from that company - and even Vacuum Victor, who said to me: you’re making it very hard for me to live . . . Gee whiz. He looked very ugly & heavy, like synthetic wood. I didn’t talk with him, i.e., he actually doesn’t really exist, in a funny way. Anyhow. I saw Cynthia [Homire] the last night, and suddenly all that was back for me, again. And for her as well, I guess. Though what now comes of it, god knows. But at least for the one evening we had, I felt alive again, in a way I haven’t since summer really. I was surprised to find how deeply all that had gone. She may come here, I don’t know. I couldn’t find energy then to persuade her, or in fact to ask ‘questions’ at all. I still stay ‘out’, in a sense. I am very distrustful about ‘arranging’ anything, hence could not ‘arrange’ for her coming. I hope she does anyhow, but wonder. To hell with it. It was a very clear evening no matter.

Things here are also now much better, we are getting salaries of some sort; and the place is secure through December at least. Charles will probably not be here, but he needs god knows to get away. The class so far has been much better than last term; and things generally much more possible. So. I’ll write soon again, I’m still stuffed like a boa constrictor, hence must think about it etc., etc. Wow . . . Write soon. When will you be leaving there? I hope all goes well for you both.

                                                                                        All my love to you both,
                                                                                                                             [signed - Bob]

To Robert Duncan (October 30, 1959)

San Geronimo Miramar
Patal, Such.
Guatamala, C.A.
October 30, 1959

Dear Robert,
God it was good to hear from you, i.e., I had been sunk in a sort of paranoid dejection, finally taking it for granted that all mail was being stolen or (the happy alternative) that all my friends had at last ‘seen thru’ me & discovered the petty shit I really am. Anyhow you said the magic word. Ok.

I’m sorry to hear about Joe [Dunn]. Seeing him with Jack [Spicer] the one night in San Francisco, he looked very shaky, shaken more accurately—a sort of hysterical ghost of himself. The girl I was god knows prepared to like, in contrast to his wife, etc., but she frightened me with her ‘I’m dead’ insistence, and she was really, altogether. Olson used to describe Joe (at BMC) as the Boston Irish wit, i.e., that delights in the errors more than the truths, and would envelop masses of information for the sake of proving another wrong. I didn’t think that, and used to delight in the sort of naïve toughness he had, common, word and worldly wise, in a way, from being a kid in that grey city. You have to spend a night talking in some apartment on Charles Street and then look for some place you won’t die in to go eat, to feel the despair it damn well does breed in the heart. I thank god I grew up 20 miles out of it—I was always a hick, etc. Anyhow it sounds now like THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM, a sort of Frank Sinatra hopeful destruction—when we all die no matter. I wish he could be pulled out of it, just dragged clear—yet how to do that.

So that way it’s unhappy news WHITE RABBIT is over. But then I’m very pleased you’ll be editing, with Jack’s left-handed influence as you say, ENKIDU SURROGATE. (What does ENKIDU mean, i.e., I have nothing here to tell me & I don’t know.) SURROGATE is what I wish I could find myself not—or rather, could for myself. ‘Who’s there… ’ Not me. Thinking of all of it, I had a letter from Roi Jones about Allen’s having played tapes for them all, of Ed Dorn, McClure, John Weiners, etc. If nothing more (and I think there is a lot more, finally), Allen would be valuable just for that, i.e., Jones says Oppenheimer, Max Finstein, Sorrentino, Blackburn, Marshall, DiPrima, etc were there, and you’ll see the names there that strike me. I.e., this is the first basic improvement in communications for many a year, and Allen does it almost entirely alone. (I have a tape here he gave me and this Saturday want to go over to the next finca where the current is more reliable, and make copies of your Ode Beginning with a Line from Pindar, and The Owl is, etc—and then fill out with mine, i.e, not simply as self advertisement—but you’ll know how distantly I live, and this has always been the one thing that rarely happens. So.)

One thing I want to get in here, thinking of surrogate and ENKIDU (which sticks in my mind like a signal I can’t damn well translate! frustration!), I’ve been reading at last Jane Harrison’s Prolegomena to Greek Religion, god what a lovely book it is, and see of course, now (too late but not too late), what Graves never, never does. Ok. Anyhow, last Sunday as from that whole thinking about, quickly:


As I was walking
  I came upon
chance walking
  the same road upon.

As I sat down
  by chance to move
  if and as I might,

light the wood was,
  light and green,
and what I saw
  before I had not seen.

It was a lady
by goat men
  leading her.

Her hair held earth.
  Her eyes were dark.
A double flute
  made her move.

“O love,
  where are you
  me now?“” [7]

I keep working, somehow—usefully no matter what, i.e., I’m trying to learn my ‘business’, over and over again. I want the ‘thing I do’ or am done by enough my own name, nature, to be a practical position, impractically arrived at. I got the review of your book done—the term you make is so very damn beautiful, i.e., ‘let no one mistake’, or let all take and mistake, but take. I want to hear first if POETRY will use it, it is mainly a pattern of quotation since that at the end was what I read, so why ‘talk’ about it, more than show—and my despair was only that I could ‘show’ so little. That way I’m still nervous about it, want them to say yes or no, and better, to make it a formal slight. Wow. I called it and why not: A LIGHT, A FAIR LUMINOUS CLOUD. I quote: O Lady! we receive but what we give, And in our life alone does Nature live… That ‘reads’ it too je crois. Anyhow don’t think please I here be only coy, i.e., nervioso, como gasiosa: y poco a poco. I’ll send it next letter. [Enclosed!]

I want to get this back to you. Write please. Just now I’m sending out dreary begging letters looking for any sort of job anywhere. I.e., Iowa is one possibility. What next. Write! Take care of yourselves. We are all well. Ok!
All love you both,
                                            [signed - Bob]

[Handwritten PS along left margin] P.S. Thanks for Jimmy’s, and Maddie’s, + Jack’s addresses – I want to write all 3 shortly. I did not see [?] magazine. I see damn little here – but Yugen. (I have by the way Allen reading to Ed. D. + me in Sante Fe (quietly!), first parts of Kaddish + some other things that make it. – I haven’t seen the later.)

[Handwritten PPS to right of poem] P.P.S. I’ll write soon – all your news (despite [?] bad purpose etc) is fine – i.e. Jess’ book + all I think!

To Tom Raworth (January 21, 1961)

San Geronimo Miramar
Patulul, Such.
Guatemala, C. A.
January 23, 1961

Dear Tom,
                      That’s very happy news about your new daughter, and I much liked the whole ‘description’ like they say. I never have got to travel in such fashion and much envy you. In any case, we have four (daughters), so are well acquainted with all the delights thereof. And conversely. Ok.

To begin with--I've enclosed some poems, and a note on Burrough’s NAKED LUNCH.   Grove Press plans to publish the novel in the States this spring, and had asked me for a comment on its value etc. I’d just done it yesterday, and it may not be worth the time--but if so, you are welcome to it--perhaps adding a note that it was a comment written for Grove in response to their question etc.  Ok.  (I don’t know that “black Mountain Review” needs identification there, but would suppose so.  Briefly, it was the publication of the ‘avant garde’ Black Mountain College, wherein appeared many of the Beat Generation writers as well as the so-called ‘Black Mountain’ group.  Cf. Allen’s The New American Poetry, 1945–1960, Grove Press--and the comments he makes about the logic for his divisions in the preface.) I don’t have any story to send you unhappily. I will hope to by at least summer, but just now I have copies of nothing here--and anything new I have is at present tied up.  But I will.   Meantime, I will write Fielding Dawson (whose prose may well interest you) along with this, and ask him to send you something as soon as possible.

As to other people--here are names and addresses of some I myself think outstanding, and also sympathetic to such a magazine as you propose:

Charles Olson
28 Fort Square
Gloucester, Mass.

Robert Duncan
P.O. Box 14
Stinson Beach, Calif.

Denise (Levertov) Goodman
277 Greenwich
New York 7, N.Y.

I.e., those most interest me, and also, very much: Louis Zukofsky, 135 Willow Street, Brooklyn 1, N.Y.  You have Ed Dorn’s address of course--who is another. Thinking of prose:

Michael Rumaker
52 Main Street
Nanuet, N.Y.

William Eastlake
Eastlake Ranch
Cuba, New Mexico

Douglas Woolf
Box 4231
Spokane 31, Washington

Edward Dahlberg
88 Horation Street
Apt 5B
New York 14, N.Y.

 —> He is presently writing a very interesting
autobiography--cf.sections in recent BIG
TABLEs, and is an older man, very good I think.
Anyhow I’d try him if I were you.

Ed Dorn also writes interesting prose, both ‘fiction’ and otherwise.

Then there are people like Hugh Kenner, 4680 La Espada Drive, Santa Barbara, California--who might be got if you asked them very nicely (or were interested to) for a short comment on American poetry as they now take it, etc. You ought to be in contact with Dr Gael Trunbull,
1199 Church St., Ventura, Calif. (who was old publisher of MIGRANT, and a very decent man generally I think).   Also Irving Layton, the one Canadian poet I think exceptional--could reach him c/o Jack Hirschman, 14 North Park, Hanover, N.H.--and Hirschman, a  young teacher now at Dartmouth College, is also an interesting translator and poet in his own right.   Larry Eigner: 23 Bates Road, Swampscott, Mass.  Paul Blackburn: 110 Thompson, New York 9, N.Y LeRoi Jones: 324 East 14th St, New York 3, N.Y.--who is very sympathetic and helpful man, the editor also of YUGEN.  Gary Snyder: Konoecho, Yase, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan.  Mike McClure: 2324 Fillmore, San Francisco--through whom also could be reached Philip Whalen, a good writer.

It gets a little endless, so let me stop here, i.e., if you try any of these, I’m very sure A will quickly lead to B. You’ll find most American writers very interested to be published there, and grateful for the opportunity--if a little shy of ‘English manner’ they suspect as a criticism of their own etc. But if you write them simply as you have me--god knows warmly and kindly--I'm sure you’ll have no trouble.  Do you happen to know where Martin Seymour-Smith is these days? I knew him when living in Mallorca, an old and very close friend then--and am anxious to locate him again. He as well might be a help to you.

As to outlets in this country: generally that gets to be a nightmare, if you attempt either wide coverage, or general coverage.  What I’d suggest is this: ask specifically LeRoi Jones if he would mind acting as American agent for you, in New York area--with specific reference to 8th Street Bookshop and any like places he knows. I.e., put it to him, you’d like the magazine to circulate there, you know the problems of getting currency back and forth, so if shops would pay you in credit for books, say, only, that would be fine (I hope!). He will be able to tell you much more accurately than I what numbers he will be able to handle there for example: probably 30-50 of the first issue, simply circulating it as he can. I’d ask Paul Carroll, BIG TABLE, 1316 North Dearborn, Chicago 10, Ill., the same question for that area--though he may be more harassed, but then put it, can you simply tell me what bookstores etc. Then, last, Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Bookstore, 261 Columbus Ave., San Francisco 11, Calif. would no doubt stock copies,
if you write them, literally him etc. You are welcome to use my name in reference to any of the people here noted.  Ok.

So, let me get this back quickly--and write again. Do write yourself, as you can. I like very much what you are trying to do, and again, would like to help in any way possible.
My best to you,

[Handwritten across top left of page]
Please don't
be swamped by     } Re: 'NAMES '
this - I'm simply
giving you all I
can think if - to do with as
you see fit.

[Handwritten in right margin] at such a distance

[Typed vertically in left margin] If the magazine is available in NY, SF, and Chicago, it's enough--i.e., those, particularly the first two, are the centers for any such magazine and its effective circulation. It will go on from there perhaps, but no matter.


[1] In this instance, Levertov’s poem, “The Palm Tree,” first published in Overland to the Islands (1957) and reprinted in Collected Earlier Poems 1940–1960, New Directions, 1979, pp. 55–56, as well as another poem so far unidentified and quite possibly unpublished, to judge by the thorough going-over that Creeley provided.

[2] “The Last Turn,” William Carlos Williams, The Collected Poems Volume II, 1939–1962 (New York: New Directions, 1988, 27 and 88).

[3] Ezra Pound, “Canto XIII,” The Cantos of Ezra Pound (New York: New Directions, 1972, 60).

[4] Charles Olson, Y&X, drawings by Carrado Cagli. (Washington: Black Sun Press, 1950).

[5] Origin 1, featuring poems by Charles Olson and including Creeley’s “Hart Crane” (cf. The Complete Correspondence of Charles Olson and Robert Creeley, Volume 6, edited by George F. Butterick, notes 13 and 15).

[6] Levertov, “The Bereaved,” from Overland to the Islands (1958), reprinted in Collected Earlier Poems 1940–1960, (New York: New Directions, 1979, 64–65).

[7] “Kore” from For Love (New York: Scribner’s, 1962), CP 206.

Peter Baker

Peter Baker

Peter Baker is Professor of English and Cultural Studies at Towson University in Maryland. He is the author of three books on modern poetry and literary theory, including Deconstruction and the Ethical Turn (1995). He has also edited two book collections, most recently ONWARD: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics (1996), a volume that includes a contribution from Robert Creeley. He calls his current project in literary research “Giving Up: the Other Side of Literary Potential.” Eventually, it will include consideration of the theories of Derrida and Agamben and the literary works by Henri Michaux, William S. Burroughs and Georges Perec.

Kaplan Harris

Kaplan Harris

Kaplan Harris is Assistant Professor of English at Bowie State University. His article “Susan Howe’s Art and Poetry, 1968–1974” will be published by Contemporary Literature this fall, and he is working on a book tentatively titled Unsustainable Poetics : The Avant-Garde in Cultural Studies . With Mel Nichols, he curates the Ruthless Grip Poetry Series at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center.

Rod Smith

Rod Smith

Rod Smith is the author of Music or Honesty, The Good House, Poèmes de l’araignée (France), In Memory of My Theories, The Boy Poems, Protective Immediacy, and, with Lisa Jarnot and Bill Luoma, New Mannerist Tricycle. A CD, Fear the Sky, came out from Narrow House Recordings in 2005. He edits the journal Aerial, publishes Edge Books, and manages Bridge Street Books, in Washington, DC. The next issue of Aerial will focus on the poet Lyn Hejinian.