Creeley Remembered


Eleni Sikelianos tells a few Creeley tales at Brik.

Fabulous tales of drunken nights and big fights—these were the first stories I heard about Robert Creeley, told by Bobbie Louise Hawkins (once Bobbie Creeley) when I was a student at Naropa in the late eighties/early nineties. One of the tastiest morsels: “. . . so, I turned around and punched Bob in his good eye. . . .” Young poets thrive on such tales of poetry’s heroes, especially when told by those who knew and loved those heroes from up close. I don’t remember the first time I met Bob Creeley, but I do remember being surprised again and again by his generosity and thoughtfulness—his attention to the world and humans, his willingness to connect. Sharp-eyed. The last time I saw him Laird Hunt (my husband) and I were driving him from Boulder to Denver this past October. He wanted to take the scenic route, though he seemed to pay no attention to what was going on outside the car. I was driving, Bob was in the passenger seat, his good eye was window-side. He seemed as energetic as ever; he had the physical wealth of a man in his thirties. We were talking about his switch from New Directions to the University of California Press. I asked if University of California would do his new books as well as his reprints. He turned his face fully toward me, so his good eye could take ME in (much, I imagined, as does the driving speaker in “I Know a Man”). “I don’t have more than a book or two left,” he said, in that completely candid way he had that made things seem grim and tender and funny all at once. “I’m old, don’t you know.”