Preferred Citation: Creeley, Robert. The Collected Essays of Robert Creeley. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1989 1989.

Foreword to Robert Creeley: An Inventory, 1945–1970

Foreword to Robert Creeley:
An Inventory, 1945–1970

by Mary Novik

I came to writing with some awkwardness, just that nothing in the situation in which I grew up seemed particularly involved with that possibility. My sister Helen, however, four years older than I, was an intensive reader, and it was she who gave me both Conrad and Dostoyevsky to read when I must have been about twelve or thirteen. She also wrote poems which had gained the approval of Robert P. Tristram Coffin among others. At school I had several exceptional teachers, all of whom increased my articulation and also my perception of what "saying things" could accomplish. One, for example, had us translate sections of Joyce's Dubliners into Basic English, an exercise which made very literal the actual agency that the words in Joyce's text were making. When it came time to go to college, I sent applications to Amherst, the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard. The first two offered excellent preparation for veterinary medicine, which I then hoped would be my profession, and both offered me substantial scholarships. Harvard's acceptance, however, despite the lack of any financial assistance, must have turned my head, coming from a small town in Massachusetts as I did. In any case, the decision to go to Harvard was also a decision to commit myself to writing, no matter that I was probably not that certain of it at the time. My friends there quickly expanded senses of writing I had had to include Pound and Stein among others. They were also the first to publish me and to invite me, generously, to be one of the editors of the Cummings issue of the Har-

Mary Novik, Robert Creeley: An Inventory, 1945–1970 (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1973).


vard Wake . Willy Gaddis, Jake Bean, Bernie Weinbaum, and Bill Lieberman also had myself and Gordon Rollins elected to the Harvard Advocate , but our subsequent conduct caused the university to expunge all record of that fact.

The rest of it, so to speak, is to be found here. It's a very strange feeling now looking through the various entries, much like seeing the rings on a tree stump. I have never had the sense that I was getting very much done, and so it's a particular pleasure to see how much has accumulated no matter. I'm grateful, of course, that it has mattered to others, those readers who I've never dared assume might be there. I felt I was doing something very like tossing pebbles in a pool. The way the rings have gone out is a very deep pleasure.

I must say I have very few of the books, pamphlets, magazines, etc., that are here listed. We have moved so frequently in past years—twenty-two times in the past fourteen—that it was impossible to keep any such backlog in hand, even had I wanted to. So I thank Mary Novik very much indeed for recalling all of them to me. Her conscientiousness has been an act of extraordinary generosity.

Bolinas, California
December 31, 1971


Foreword to Robert Creeley: An Inventory, 1945–1970

Preferred Citation: Creeley, Robert. The Collected Essays of Robert Creeley. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1989 1989.