Academic journal article Chicago Review

Robert Creeley: A Biography

Academic journal article Chicago Review

Robert Creeley: A Biography

Article excerpt

Ekbert Faas with Maria Trombacco. Robert Creeley: A Biography. Hanover: University Press of New England, 2001. 536 pp. $28

The problem with biographies is that biographers are rarely as intelligent as their subjects. Such is the case with Robert Creeley: A Biography-a disappointing, unintuitive tome. The poet stalks through the book as a violent humiliated misfit, and the tone of the writing makes one wonder why Faas would spend his time investigating a subject he obviously feels such great antipathy toward. A look at the biography's index gives the reader a clearer sense of this: under the heading of "Creeley, Robert White," one finds an uninterrupted flow of off-putting categories- "masochism," "mood swings," "moral indignation," "monstrousness," and "multiple personalities." One of the jobs of a biographer is to process ambivalence-both the author's ambivalence toward the subject and the subject's ambivalence toward the individuals in his or her life. Sadly, this book is without such complex recognitions-as many in the poetry community have commented, it is simply a hatchet job. Faas's interpretations of Robert Creeley's character are profoundly pessimistic and unenlightening, and within the text there exist biting errors (such as Faas's contention that Creeley had an affair with Ed Dorn's first wife Helene). …

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