While preparing for the “Words, Loves” conference in Prince George, BC in the winter of 1980, Barry McKinnon received by mail two poems from Robert Creeley to be published as broadsides for the occasion.  

Creeley, who was living in New Mexico at the time, had accepted Barry’s invitation to be the headline writer at the conference, which would also feature readings by well-known BC poets and some of the creative writing students from the BC colleges.  

McKinnon designed and printed letter-press broadsides of the two poems by Creeley— “Place” and a longer poem, “Spot”— at his Gorse Street Press.  The broadsides, extremely rare items,have been hidden for forty years.  The poem “Spot,” in fact, has been basically lost and forgotten, until now.

Earlier this month, McKinnon was going through some old files and found his computer scan of the original typewritten copy of “Spot.”  While “Place” ended up being published, “Spot” was never collected in any form and became, for all practical purposes, lost to memory– including to Creeley’s, apparently, who never published it, following the furtive broadside edition.  It is strange that this should have been the case, as the poem is unquestionably lovely–deeplymemorable in its moving, subtle affect–and surely deserving of a prominent place in Creeley’soeuvre.  

Here for the first time outside their original creations, are both Creeley’s original typescript and the limited-edition and forgotten broadside produced for the 1980 conference, courtesy of Barry McKinnon. We thank both Barry McKinnon for making this rediscovery possible and also Dispatches Executive Editor Sharon Thesen, who was the conduit of this special rediscovery, here In the concluding days of Dispatches.

Thanks to Sarah Creeley and Bob Hogg for providing the photos.

See also Barry McKinnon’s report on the conference: Words, Loves — Third B.C. College Writing Conference February 7, 8, 9, 1980 

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Transcription:

SPOT
He was once happy as I
and lived here,
and then he died, love,
and so will I.

You know the most banal
truth is that—that we don’t
live forever—and I don’t
even wish it weren’t true.

Because if we did, what world
would want us in it,
such a bulk, such a garbage,
without an end?

Some things are also true—
that I love you, for instance,
quickly said, yet sufficiently
for this abstract moment.

My dog died and what
a weird sadness that was!
Not even human but then
He often acted like one,

was if anything more perceptive,
more generous. If he could come back,
I’d welcome that.
I really loved him.

So what’s the difference,
human or dog, or something else
is beautiful for awhile,
and then it dies.

I plan my own death
like stepping off the edge one night,
just out of sight.
Otherwise, no fuss.

That’s the way he went.
No one knows even where,
like Lew Welch,
who would not be offended by the comparison.

Harder to hang around,
wheezing and gasping—
all those cigarettes!
Now you pay for them.

This, then, is an inadvertent testament,
to love, to Spot, to death—
may they all get it together
in the inexplicable hereafter.

Click on the images to enlarge.

 

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