Of all the poets who came of age during the World War II era, Robert Creeley is one of the most enduring and restless, continually honing his vision, seeking the doorway for language to let itself out, to shower and cover listeners and readers with its beauty and truth, no matter how small and intimate it is -- or how large and terrible. Creeley has made other recordings, one in collaboration with Steve Lacy called Futurities, and another with a group of musicians headed by Steve Swallow and David Torn entitled Have We Told You All We'd Thou. But this recording is just the poet's voice and his newest poems, which in the liner notes he confesses to loving, the same as children. He reads in a slightly wavering, tender voice, like the 75-year-old man he is, his words coming out straighter than straight, yet looping like music around the listener, touching upon the air as something sacred, something to be pondered, wondered at, and ultimately to be taken in as memory, moral, allegory, and simple truth. Many of these poems rhyme according to schemata afforded the poet's own voice, as in "En Famille": "...You won't get far by yourself/It's dark out there/There's a long way to go/The dog knows/It's him that loves us most/Or seems to, in dark nights of the soul/Keep a tight hold/Steady, we're not lost/Despite the sad vagaries, anchored in love, placed in the circle/Young and old, a round--/Love's fact of this bond/One day one will look back/And think of them--/Where they were, now gone--/Remember it all...."Creeley's meditations in these poems are on the natural world, the family, impermanence, memory itself, and the wonder of being alive in each moment. Not with a giddy optimism, or a false gratitude, but in knowing, one word at a time, that as long as there is breath, he will say it, however it has to be said. This is a reading that can be heard many times, hundreds even, so subtle is the grace and mystery in this work. It is another achievement in a life of them, but it is presented to listeners in a manner in which it comes to them, rolling through the speakers like a slow stream of water through the rock, offering rest, refreshment, and pause.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo