Robert Creeley at Goddard College May 18, 1973

Over the past two weeks my attention keeps turning back to this reading of Creeley’s. Prior to my accidental discovery of it I had no idea what a treasure it would be and is. One morning I was scrolling through R.C.’s page at PennSound and thought to listen to one of my favorite poems, “The Plan is the Body.”

I clicked on this Goddard reading because this poem leads the set. The first thing that interests me is that there isn’t an actual introduction. Whoever’s doing the introduction trails off after not saying much more than “As you all know,” and then there’s simply a cacophony of voices. The next thing you can hear clearly is Creeley asking, “Can you all hear?”

As R.C. moves along it’s clear that he’s in a joking mood, asking at one point “Do you have a cigarette, man? Just testing the resources of the room.” From there he slips into the poem, but he doesn’t get very far before having to start again, not once, but twice. Before the second time, though, he engages in some chatter with the audience saying “I didn’t make these arrangements. I’m just simply here. Up against the wall, motherfucker!”

All the while the audience is listening, laughing. A bit further in the reading, though, there is a heckler who dislikes one of Creeley’s poems. It’s not really clear what the heckler says, but Creeley replies, “I’m just trying to have an experience.” Eventually, R.C. starts up again. Throughout he shifts from poetry to fiction, chats a bit, and phones ring and babies cry in the background. At one point, Creeley even says “The acid is beginning to work!” Truly incredible!

One Comment

  1. gtrabbit wrote:

    just wanted to confirm the incredibleness of this recording. I had always been aware of Creeley’s work, and knew something about the critical apparatus one was meant to use in receiving his work, but listening to this recording all of that become incredibly alive within the work itself. I chanced upon this particular recording at a time when I was living in a foreign country, feeling generally alienated from the English language, and had mostly given up on poetry, then Creeley’s (how shall I say it) fullness of being here was just so powerful, it really renewed my commitment to the social power of the poetry reading and in general the project of consciousness expansion (and exchange) via artistic means.

    Friday, December 7, 2012 at 1:40 am | Permalink

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