Creeley — poem — world: an eco-poetic limit case

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Robert Creeley’s poetry has not — so far — been discussed in relation to ecological thinking. Nor was he an ecopoet. His work, however, continually touches on the entanglement of poem and world, of the internal and external environments it encounters. This paper argues that in Creeley’s major collections Words (1967) and Pieces (1969) such a sense of entanglement is sustained by a ‘vibrant poetics’ within which an ecological thinking takes place. It sees, that is, Creeley as a ‘limit-case’ for such thinking, and asks what the consequences are of reading Creeley’s poetry as fundamentally environmental in its concerns.

In Words and Pieces Creeley dwells on home, his family and the familiar objects that surround him. These collections seem, therefore, to enact Gaston Bachelard’s claim that home is ‘our first universe, a real cosmos’. But what, this paper asks, are the implications, in reading Creeley, of seeing domestic space as ‘a real cosmos’? How is ‘home’ the locus for an exploration of cosmicity in his work? The paper also suggests that such exploration helps explain the dramatic change of poetic strategy between these collections. Ultimately, it argues that Creeley’s sense of ‘poem’ and / as ‘world’ is sustained by the question of ‘nature’, or — as Timothy Morton has it — the ‘ecological thought’.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2021
Event2021 Romanian Association for American Studies-Fulbright Conference: Eco-consciousness: Imperatives in American Culture - Bucharest and online
Duration: 8 Oct 201910 Oct 2020


Conference2021 Romanian Association for American Studies-Fulbright Conference

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