Creeley, Robert White (1926–2005) By Salutsky, Ron
Robert Creeley was a postmodernist American poet whose concern for the emotional content of the quotidian influenced Deep Image poetry, the Black Mountain School of poets, and Beat poetry.
Creeley was born in Arlington, Massachusetts, on May 21, 1926. Before the age of five he had lost his physician father, and in an automobile accident the use of his left eye. Following the death of his father, Creeley moved with his mother and sister to a small farm in West Acton, where he enjoyed spending time in the woods. The relative isolation of his upbringing made him greet even strangers generously, a grace for which Creeley was known even after he had achieved literary fame.
Following formative years in the Holderness Academy in Plymouth, New Hampshire, Creeley attended Harvard University, where he received little support for his writing. In 1944, restless and discontented, Creeley was suspended from the university for shenanigans, and subsequently sought relief and adventure in the American Field Service in Burma and India. When the war was over, Creeley returned to Harvard and helped to edit an undergraduate literary magazine, The Wake, founded as a counter to the Eliotic, New Critical bent of Harvard’s The Advocate. Through his earliest publications in The Wake, Creeley began to experiment with the quotidian subjects and diction that ran counter to the rhetorical, analytical style of poets such as Eliot and Stevens.