Robert Creeley, 1981
POETRY MISCELLANY: Let's begin with a question about language. There has always been a directness, a forcefulness about your language which comes from, among other things, its avoidance of metaphor and simile and some other figures in favor of definition. In an essay, "To Define," you say: "The process of definition is the intent of the poem." I think of Whitman's distrust of simile and his emphasis on simplicity in the 1855 "Preface"-- "nothing is better than simplicity. . .nothing can make up for excess or for the lack of definitiveness. . . . The greatest poet has less a marked style and is more the channel of thoughts and things without increase or diminution, and is free of the channel of himself." W. C. Williams linking, in The Wedge, of particular speech and a particular form of poetry it "engenders" is also pertinent here. I suppose the poem of yours I think most of in this context is the untitled one in Pieces in which you say, "I Hate the metaphors. / I want you." Perhaps you could begin, then, by sketching out a sense of what you feel is your relationship to your language, what characterizes it, and how it has developed over the years.
ROBERT CREELEY: I don't know that I've avoided metaphor. It's simile, as Charles Olson said, drags the feet. It sets up a comparison, largely defined by "difference," curiously enough, and distracts the attention to consider something else rather than the primary term of focus. Metaphor seems more an instance of transformation-- "I'll eat my words," as the dictionary says,
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Publication information: Book title: Acts of Mind:Conversations with Contemporary Poets. Contributors: Richard Jackson - Author. Publisher: University of Alabama Press. Place of publication: University, AL. Publication year: 1983. Page number: 164.
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