This selection comprises five of the nine Rand–Creeley collaborations originally published in Conjunctions:32.
It was John Yau who had introduced us some years ago in New York. Archie’s humor, quickness, and lack of pretension much attracted me, but the chance to work with him was curiously hard to come by despite his own play with narrative texts and old-time comic book formats. Then Archie sent me a cluster of xeroxes of drawings he’d been doing and suggested I might do some text or texts to go with them. It was an instantly attractive proposal, but, again, it wasn’t until Archie actually came with his wife Maria to Buffalo—he was to check a 40-by-60-foot wall at the Castellani Museum in Niagara University, so as to do something with me for a show of my collaborations—that anything really happened.
How it did still amazes me. I knew Archie had brought with him the litho sheets with the fifty-four drawings. I had tried a few brief quatrains to see how that form might work in context with the xeroxed images he’d sent me earlier. But when we went into a back room at the museum, and Archie took out the litho sheets and asked if I might try to do a text for each image there and then, I was intimidated, not to say, shocked. Still I said I’d try, and so we set out. The procedure was for Archie to slide me an image on the litho paper. I’d try a take or two to get the feel, writing on a usual sheet of typing paper, then resolve on a particular quatrain, put it with the litho sheet related—and on to the next. So we worked thorugh the afternoon until, finally, all fifty-four poems were finished. Then I copied each poem under its respective image on the litho sheet. I recall we pretty much closed up the place—as ‘twere in dream! I felt as if I had been in some fantastic traffic of narratives, all the echoes and presences and situations—like very real life indeed. I loved the almost baroque feel of the drawings, the echo of old-time illustrations and children’s books. Whatever, Archie’s sure got me. The rest you can judge for yourself.