Thursday, July 1, 2010

“I Know a Man”

It’s the first Thursday of July, so we’re starting a new two-month run for a featured poet; this time around it’s Robert Creeley, whose work I’ve long admired.

In my mind, Creeley may have been the U.S. “lyric poet” of the later 20th century—a sort of Cold War era Thomas Campion.  As I’ve noted before in writing about Creeley on this blog, his mastery of form (within the lineaments of “free verse”) concentrates his language in a way that makes it sing.  Creeley also had an ear for speech rhythms &  vernacular expressions, & was a master of finding just the right verbal gesture to put forward his emotional content, which typically is complex.

All the poems I’ll be presenting over the next two months come from Creeley’s collection For Love: Poems 1950-1960.  To my mind, this is an essential volume of U.S. poetry.  The poems I’m selecting will appear in roughly chornological order.

I’ll let “I Know a Man” stand on its own terms—it’s a poem I love very much
—but I will point out that it’s one of the very few poems that has (indirectly) supplied the title for a motion picture—hence the lead off pic.

I will be away until this evening, so won't be able to keep up with comments today, but hope you enjoy this!

I Know a Man

As I sd to my
friend, because I am
always talking,—John, I

sd, which was not his
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what

can we do against
it, or else, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car,

drive, he sd, for
christ’s sake, look
out where yr going.

Robert Creeley


  1. thanks for the shout out to creeley!

    wonderful poem - love the playfulness of it!

    btw, love the tag line to the title: "don't lie, don't cheat, and don't be afraid!!" - never heard of the movie, but interesting cast and sounds good

  2. hell, i see where you're going with this and i like it. Ha!

    please include plenty of your comments, i find them very helpful.

    poetry and music in a prius,
    thats where i want to go

  3. Here's another fine poet you're introducing to me, John. I'm grateful. My formal education -- so long ago -- wasn't enough (is it ever?), so I appreciate the intro.

  4. I have to say John, that this passes me by without saying anything to me. But some have to be that way, haven't they. I suppose poetry is a two-way thing - perhaps I am not saying anything to it.

  5. Hi Mouse, Dianne, Karen & Alan

    Mouse: Exactly! Its playfullness is the thing!

    Dianne: Will do! Poetry & music in a Prius sounds good.

    Karen: I'm really gratified to be able to introduce people to poets I like!

    Alan: No problem! We all know what they say about "one man's meat."


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