Sunday, May 21, 2006

Happy Birthday, Bob Creeley!

I remember Robert Creeley's 70th birthday celebration, a slightly chilly and rather academic event held at UB in 1996. Warmer, of course, for Bob's very presence. That was the only element missing from this past weekend's party, held this past weekend at two locations here in Buffalo: The Church, and The Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

The evening began with rememberances and readings by Debora Ott, Pen Creeley, Will Creeley (fantastic to reconnect with him, as I hadn't seen him since he was my student at City Honors ten years prior), Ansie Baird, Carl Dennis, Paul T. Hogan, Robin Brox, Kyle Schlesinger, Jonathon Skinner, David Landrey, and more.

Then the visiting poets commenced. Tom Raworth, all the way from England, delivered fast and funny poems and ended by feeding a piece of paper--Bob's epitaph punched out in holes--through a tiny music box, twittering out a little discordant, sometimes sweet, stuttering song.

Joanne Kyger spoke, entwining quotes from conversations with Bob from Bolinas days with her poems. Amiri Baraka followed, as ever powerful--political, musical, just about the time the champagne was being poured for the midnight toast.

For me, it held the elements of my favorite times in Buffalo--warm feeling among strangers and friends, a poet in every other seat, people who care. For Love, I laughed, shed tears (particularly at the screening of Diane Christian and Bruce Jackson's film Creeley), delighted in the power of poetry and good company.

Bob, you are both missed and very present. Jimmie Gilliam and I agreed, it's not time yet to speak of you in the past tense. Happy birthday. Onward!