PIECES by Robert Creeley


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Robert Creeley began publishing in the Fifties, developing a minimal style of his own, which owed something to Carlos Williams and the Imagists, the cranky classicism of Catullus, and here and there suggesting the obscure lyricism of Mallarme. With the arrival of For Love, his collected poems, in the Sixties, Creeley came into fashion, many critics professing to see in his brief, bone-dry hymns and laments a genuinely modern troubadour spirit, an authentic voice whose very limitations--a stuttering, honest-to-God sincerity, a narrow, caustic appreciation of the paradoxes of the heart--seemed the height of the contemporary sensibility, Zenish and bittersweet, a lived poetry. Pieces, alas, makes one wonder what the fuss was all about. These new poems are as idiosyncratic and sharply whittled as the old, but the experiences they convey, or Creeley's ""presence/saying/something/as it goes,"" all too often appear drained of human urgency, the dark sayings-""What/by being not/is-is not/by being""rarely expressing anything more than a telegraphic banality. If Creeley's view of the world, of women, of natural phenomena once gave the impression of a stingy, suffering temperament, it is safe to say that his imaginative responses have now largely deserted him and that his technique, regrettably, has hardened into a mannerism.

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 1969
Publisher: Scribners