Creeley on Creeley

Unlike with Kyle, the number of Creeley books in my possession is rather small. So it makes sense that I have Creeley's Autobiography, published by Hanuman Books as Number 40 in that seemingly endless series of miniature books. These "little gems" were edited by Raymond Foye and artist Francisco Clemente. I think there are 48 in the series and Bob Flanagan's Fuck Journal (#12) is the stopper, which is around $400 by itself.

You see these little fuckers tucked into odd spaces at book shows and bookstores. They're like Tribbles, endlessly reproducing themselves and generally becoming a nuisance. Some people think the Hanuman books are cute. Frankly, I don't. I am not a big fan of babies either. Let's face it not all babies are cute. They just aren't. While we are on the topic of teenie books, I could do without the City Lights Pocket Books too. People gush over their design. To me, they are just another ugly baby. I'll take the Eighth Street Bookshop's Cornith Press chapbooks over City Lights any time.

And if I am going to be grouchy (it is early and I just had my first sip of coffee and I haven't had a cigar yet), I hate big books too. No elephant folios, thank you. Audubon's Birds is, like the dodo, big, thick and dumb. It deserves to be carved up (sliced for prints) or stuffed (locked up in libraries or institutions). I'll take my 10-page mimeos and chapbooks and sit over here in the corner by myself.

All this said, I have to admit that Creeley's Autobiography is an important book and, in fact, much of the Hanuman Series is great. They just look terrible and they are small and trying so hard to be cute. Creeley on Creeley is so interesting that it wins me over every time I dip into it and read a few pages. (Babies tend to do that, too, in their own way. They are so innocent and good that you develop a soft spot for even the particularly ugly ones. And the next thing you know you are holding them and cooing at them and your IQ drops 50 points and then your hands get wet.) The Autobiography has been reprinted in Tom Clark's Robert Creeley and the Genius of the American Common Place (New Directions 1993).

Please don't get me started on Tom Clark and his biographies. Which brings us to Ekbert Faas' Robert Creeley: A Biography. Hanuman Autobiography might be only 102 pages, and I would guess it is 5000 to 6000 words, even so it is more insightful and informative than Faas's monstrosity, which inexplicably stops at around 1967, a pivotal period in Creeley's development as a personality and a poet. Not that Faas would shed any light that anyway. In any case, I'll take Creeley Words, if I want to know about what was going on with Creeley in 1967. And that goes for Creeley on Creeley in terms of biography as well. And don't tell me that Faas's book is a companion to The Young Robert Duncan. If it is then call it The Young Robert Creeley, goddamn it. Creeley was over 40 in 1967, and that is not young, it is middle aged. I should know. By the way, my arm hurts; I must have slept on it wrong.

Did I mention I got off on the wrong side of the bed this morning?



Supervert said...

That is a hysterical piece, Jed. And I agree 100% in your dislike of tribbles and elephants. For years I've been stumbling over the Semiotext(e) architecture book, which is about the size of a trap door and doesn't fit on any normal bookshelf.

Post a Comment