Saturday, October 18, 2014

MOOC ModPo Poem of the Day: "I Know a Man" by Robert Creeley

The Songs of Eretz MOOC ModPo Poem of the Day for October 18, 2014 is "I Know a Man" (c. 1954)* by Robert Creeley (1926 - 2005).  A link to the poem as well as an audio recording by the poet of it may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171564.

Robert Creeley (pictured) was associated with Black Mountain College, a school of free thinkers in North Carolina.  He was the editor of its literary journal, Black Mountain Review, and became associated with the "Black Mountain Poets," whose ranks included Denise Levertov, Ed Dorn, and Fielding Dawson.  Creeley became known for his use of "projective verse," a concept that was a significant influence on the poetry of his era.  Reference to this and additional biographical information may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/robert-creeley.

In "I Know a Man," the speaker and a friend are driving in an automobile.  All full of himself, the speaker, who is the driver, sophomorically babbles platitudes to his friend about how bad the world is what they might do about it.  He finally proposes that the best thing to do would be to buy a big car, presumably for use in an epic journey in search of the real America, or to find themselves, or for no really good reason other than to escape.  

Suddenly, the friend interrupts with a frantic plea for the driver to watch where he is going.  The literal interpretation is that the driver was not paying attention to the road and was about to be in or cause a motor vehicle accident.  Metaphorically, Creeley might have been saying that in order to accomplish anything (let alone changing the world), one must first be grounded in the reality of the here and now. 

*http://www.lrb.co.uk/v30/n04/stephen-burt/what-life-says-to-us

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