March 06, 2004

My dark teacher

An English major at the University of Buffalo in 1980, I ended up dropping his class because attending was like licking vanilla ice cream sprinkled with glass shards from a razor blade.

Here, Robert Creeley describes his collected works, and collected works in general, noting that their autobiographical nature and piecing together creates a larger story. Again, I am reminded of blogging:

"I remember Allen Ginsberg saying of my Collected Poems, 'Who would have thought such little poems would make such a big book!' I was surprised too. So there is always that new perspective, so to speak—any shift in context and format is bound to change one's sense of things. I know that reading Williams's Paterson as it appeared, book by book, was quite different from reading the whole work "collected" and published as a single volume.

"I miss in obvious ways the intensity and specificness a particular book can have at a particular time for all concerned—Pieces [Creeley's book of poems published by Scribner in 1969], for example. At the same time one is able to recognize in a collection such as Just in Time the pattern of a life lived, the curve of that aspect of time. For me especially the "autobiographical" is a significant element, and the collection of several books into one lets one track it more simply."