I have been certified as an expert in the life and work of ten people: W.H. Auden, Daniel Berrigan, John Cage, Gregory Corso, Robert Creeley, James Dickey, Allen Ginsberg, Denise Levertov, Andy Warhol, and James Wright. The list is accidental. I wanted to interview Ezra Pound, for example, and discussed the matter on the phone with Olga Rudge; but, before I could fly to Italy, Pound died. I read every one of John Ashbery’s publications many times, prepared questions for an interview, and had my tape recorder ready; but an hour before the interview was to begin, Ashbery phoned to cancel.
Robert Creeley tried to write for a living. That writing, done in the Fifties and early Sixties, is generally admired and recognized. And the recognition led to prestigious teaching jobs. But talking about literature to adoring students can turn to neglect of the painful and difficult labor of serious creativity. It happens all the time.