Saturday, April 09, 2005

Robert Creeley Saved Sam Hamill

Tucson Poetry Festival

Was interviewed with Sam Hamill yesterday on the local public radio station. He did a poem in the voice of his long time friend Robert Creeley, turns out Sam can do a perfect imitation of Creeley's dry voice, so accurate that Sam used to call up Creeley's house when Creeley was on tour and talk to his wife as Creeley, which of course pissed off both wife and poet. That led to me asking Sam to tell a story about Bob. Sam said, "I owe my life to Creeley," and proceeded to tell how when Creeley had run off with Rexroth's wife Martha, Sam was addicted to heroin and how Creeley had told him, "Your heroes Miles Davis and John Coltrane both kicked heroin because it was killing them and their music." He then locked Sam in a bedroom for five days as he kicked his habit. Sam ended, "So if Creeley hadn't been diddling Martha I might not be alive." Later we started talking about Haiku and Sam made the point that translators always get Basho's frog poem wrong its not a frog splashing into an old pond, its a frog jumping into water sound.

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