Creeley among others : an American poetics in context
Robert Greeley's writing career now spans almost half a century. His lasting friendship with Charles Olson led, in the mid-fifties, to his involvement with the ‘Black Mountain School’ of poets. Scholars find it convenient to sustain this association even though Greeley’s ‘open form' poetry has never fitted easily into such categories: the tenets of his poetics emerged, gradually, from more heterogeneous origins. The purpose of this account is to examine the complexities of Greeley’s response to those writers who, by his own admission, guided his poetic development. Such relationships offer an interesting context for the investigation of his resolutely idiosyncratic poetics. To demonstrate this, the study focusses on seven other American poets: Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, Hart Crane, William Carlos Williams, Louis Zukofsky, Charles Olson and Robert Duncan. They make a diverse company, yet each has been important to the evolution of a highly sophisticated poetic idiom. A prolific letter-writer, Greeley’s lengthy correspondence with Charles Olson (published in 9 volumes so far and still incomplete) and the unpublished (hitherto largely unexamined) letters found among the papers of recipients have been rich source material. Interviews with Greeley himself, including one conducted by the author in August 1994, were equally helpful in establishing what, and how, each writer contributed to the development of his poetics.