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This review is taken from PN Review 16, Volume 7 Number 2, November - December 1980.

STUMBLING ABOUT Robert Creeley, Poems 1950-1965 (Marion Boyars) £2.95
Robert Creeley, Hello: A Journal (Marion Boyars) £4.95/£1.95

That Robert Creeley should compile a travel 'journal' (of a trip round Australasia and South East Asia financed by the New Zealand Arts Council) is a natural result of one aspect of his approach to writing. Zukofsky praised his unpretentiousness in not attempting to force the metaphysical into his work and Creeley himself says of his poems that they are 'places . . . stumbled into'. Indeed the hesitant candour and self-ironic simplicity of his work from the fifties and sixties are among its attractions. He explores the moral and emotional nuances of his experience in vocabulary so simple as to be banal in other writers. But it resonates-largely due to his inventive use of rhythm and syntax. And though the 'place' of the poem may be 'stumbled into' the form is not. The best poems of this period are carefully structured for all their relaxed air and they are memorable not so much for striking details of observation as for the sensitivity of thought which has gone into defining their 'place', into the sequence of their ideas and the nature of the statement as a whole. They certainly embody his dictum about form and content.

An inherent danger in a passive approach to the Muse, however, is that in an expansive mood it may degenerate, particularly in a prolific poet like Creeley, into little more than statements in the manner of 'Kilroy was here'. The problem of quality is one which he has skirted round. His ...


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