Robert Creeley in conversation with Leonard Schwartz

from Jacket 25 (February 2004)

Transcribed by Angela Buck. The interview is a transcription of a radio interview that was originally conducted on November 24, 2003, on “Cross-Cultural Poetics,” KAOS 89.3 FM, Olympia, Washington State, USA. The poems Robert Creeley reads during this interview are from his new collection, If I Were Writing This, published by New Directions Publishing Corporation, New York, www.wwnorton.com/nd/ ©2003 by Robert Creeley. Here is the original audio recording of the show.

LS: Born in 1926, Robert Creeley is the winner of a Bollingen Prize in Poetry in 1999, a Lifetime Achievement Award conferred by the Before Columbus Foundation in 2000, and a Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. From Black Mountain to wherever we are now, Creeley remains one of our most enduring and vital poets, “vital” spelled energetic and alive. His latest book just out this fall is If I Were Writing This from New Directions. I have him on the phone from Providence, Rhode Island where he is a distinguished professor at Brown University. Welcome, Robert.

RC: Thank you, Leonard. I hope the various beeps and gurgles (from the phone line) don’t throw us off.

LS: “Beeps and Gurgles” might make a good title for a new book.

RC: Yes, “and things that go bump in the night...”

LS: Many years ago you wrote that form is never more than an extension of content.

RC: (Laughs) I was really young then, Leonard.

LS: (Laughs) All these years later in your new book, If I Were Writing This, does that still seems true?

RC: Well, content is never more than an extension of form and form is never more than an extension of content. They sort of go together is the absolute point. It’s really hard to think of one without the other; in fact, I don’t think it’s possible. What I meant, whatever that means, is that what’s coming to be said — it’s like William Carlos Williams’ wonderful insistence, “How to get said what must be said...” — that need, that impulse, that demand, is what I would call the content’s finding a form for its own realization, recognition, substantiation.

[For more, read the full interview.]