University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Robert Creeley's Library: The Poet's Books
as Art Museum and Network of Communications

Graphic for the Cleeley exhibit.

Exhibit dates — February 3 to July 25, 2014

Robert Creeley (1926-2005) was one of the most influential and beloved American poets of the twentieth century. Grouped initially as one of the Black Mountain poets (with Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, and Edward Dorn), Creeley brought forward after World War II the legacy of the American modernists, especially William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound. His spare, vernacular poetry is known for its concision, its rhythmic subtlety (often drawing on the syncopations of jazz), and its linguistic playfulness.

With support from John J. and Terrie Bollman, the Howard and Evangeline Phalin Collection in English and American Literature, and the President's Circle, the Hesburgh Library acquired in 2011 nearly all of the books from Robert Creeley's personal library. This includes his copies of his own books (often in limited or special editions), the beautiful artist books in which he collaborated (many of museum quality), and thousands of books by other writers with whom he associated. As an archive, these books contain many treasures, for Creeley used them as folders to house related materials: letters, photographs, reviews, brochures, notices of poetry readings, and the miscellaneous evidence of travel (plane tickets, hotel receipts, etc.).

This exhibition of select materials from Robert Creeley's library demonstrated the vital and remarkably extensive range of his network of communications and ultimately made evident his centrality to the literary and visual arts of his time.

The exhibit was curated by Stephen Fredman (Department of English). Design by Sara Weber (Digital Projects Specialist, Special Collections). Conservation and preparation of materials by Liz Dube (Conservator, Preservation) and Diane Sikorski (Conservation Technician, Preservation). Planning and coordination by the Hesburgh Library Exhibit Committee.

The Robert Creeley Symposium — February 7, 2014

The Robert Creeley Symposium was held in Rare Books and Special Collections and was open to the public. The symposium celebrated this exhibition and also the publication of The Selected Letters of Robert Creeley, edited by Rod Smith, Peter Baker, and Kaplan Harris (University of California Press, 2014). {download a PDF of the flyer advertising the symposium}

Schedule of events

10:00-11:00 am

Penelope Creeley, poet’s widow Coffee Break


Steve Clay, book dealer, author, and publisher of Granary Books

2:00-3:00 pm

Kaplan Harris, co-editor of Creeley’s Selected Letters Coffee Break


Notre Dame Graduate Student Roundtable



The Robert Creeley Symposium was sponsored by the English Department, the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, and the Hesburgh Libraries.