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A TESTAMENT (Martin Richet / Robert Creeley, “Figure of Outward”)

(Robert Grenier wrote the following text in response to Martin Richet’s request for an introduction to ROBERT CREELEY Là: poèmes 1968-1975 (Editions Héros-Limite, Geneva). MR thanked RG for his contribution, but subsequently informed RG that the publisher had declined to use the introduction due to limitations of space. –Editors)

– for Pen (!)

How ‘important’ these works, from this time (possibly a ‘middle period’ (?)) in Robert Creeley’s ‘development’ as a poet (like a ‘meteor’ crossing the heavens ‘from horizon to horizon’ ?) were (& ARE) for me (NOW, still !), it is impossible to Say (!) . . . how much Ilearned’ from these poems (& what sort of ‘encouragement’ I gleaned (as ‘inspiration’) from their actual-existence-as-poetry, also !) – WOW ! !

I say this not to bore you with myOwn’ Circumstance (WHAT ABOUT ROBERT CREELEY’S POEMS & MARTIN RICHET’S INSPIRED SELECTIONS & FINE TRANSLATIONS??), but because I know that these poems from this time, c. [1968-75?] (there is ‘really’ only one time of the life-in-words ‘going forward’ (as ‘content’) toward its final (‘rigor mortis’) ‘revelation-of-itself-as-it-is’, as the ‘shape(s)-it’s-been’, upon the death of the poet – i.e., there is, in fact, no actual ‘Middle Period’, but only each one (each poem – each poem on each page, made available for ‘scrutiny’ & ‘understanding’ herein – Dear Reader ! OFF YOU GO ! !) – I know that (together with roughly contemporary prose in, e.g., Presences & Mabel) what Robert Creeley was ‘doing-during-this-time’ provided both a kind of ‘primordial muck’ (inside a ‘very-active’ language process), AND absolute instances of ‘poems realized’, as though a ‘modern-day’ Campion (or Dowland) were composing them – such that a ‘wide variety’ of Vastly Different American writers (who may well have HATED (or been studiously indifferent to) each other’s works) Read This Stuff (as, variously, ‘material-to-their-own-existence’, as writers) – THAT’S GOOD ! !

Consider the ‘progress-through’ from the ‘achieved form’ of the Quatrains (built from prior Couplets) toward the end of For Love, into the ‘experimental’/‘loose’ state of 3-line stanzas in Words (esp. for me in “A Piece”), toward/forward toward recognition of possibility of (‘measured’) ongoing-thinking-in-words which can be written at the same time as ‘what they say’ is being ‘actualized’/called into existence/‘recognized’ by words written (in Pieces) – HOW ‘ENLIVENING’ Robert Creeley’s demonstration that such ‘inhabitation-of-the-path-forward’ could be (life-sustaining ?) like that . . . (!) for how many other persons/writers I don’t know . . .

And then it ‘bends back’, toward Elizabethan precedents (Again!) in Backwards, etc. –  incorporating the ‘flow-through’ into a ‘solid’ stanza (‘form’) which ‘stands there’ AND ‘flows-through-itself’ (TERCETS making History?) ! !

How does it ‘come about’ that Robert Creeley’s Words (during the ‘Middle Period’, and elsewhere!), as they proceed (on any page – in the ‘original’ AND in Martin Richet’s ‘translations’) Seem to Be Happening (and to be ‘truly happening’) as I concentrate in reading upon what is being said ? ?

– Robert Grenier
Bolinas, CA
December 15, 2008