Creeley stands among the company of contemporary American poets who think carefully, in the process of making a poem, about what poetic language can and cannot achieve. Despite affinities with several other modernist precursors (see modernism), Creeley is less concerned with the presentation of sensory observation than William Carlos Williams and Louis zukofsky, and he turns away from the lush, extravagant imagery and metaphors of Wallace stevens by embracing a more minimalist or pared-down style. Creeley's poetry features a spare, partly colloquial (but never chatty) and partly formal diction, a compression of narrative and lyric gestures, a use of precise quatrains (as well as couplets and tercets), and a preference for metonymy or rather contiguity over metaphor that is based on analogy. His syntax, full of qualifications, sometimes strains traditional grammatical rules. Creeley is a master of surprising, artful enjambment. Like Williams, he breaks lines in unexpected places that emphasize the "hinges" of language—prepositions and transitional terms, as well as underappreciated articles and other words often thought to contain no meaning in themselves. Though his stylistic traits differ considerably from black mountain school poets like Charles olson, Robert duncan, and Denise levertov, with whom he is historically affiliated, he shares their advocacy of a poetry that openly explores all possible experience against one with a unified theme and closed form that might shut out realms of experience evoked by language.
Creeley was born in Arlington, Massachusetts. At age two, he lost his left eye in a car accident, and two years later his father, a physician, died suddenly. After attending Harvard University for a year, he served as an ambulance driver in Burma during the last two
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