Bobbie Louise Hawkins

BobbiHawkins

Bobbie Louise Hawkins called poet Robert Creeley “the most interesting man I ever met.” Their marriage and divorce – “Bob and Bobbie” – were famous among his students at SUNY/Buffalo, where I studied under and befriended Creeley. I was told that Bobbie once tried to run over Bob with a car. I knew Creeley was angry and quarrelsome as a young man, but this scene was still hard to picture.

Ms. Hawkins passed away on May 4. I had been reading about her on that very day (she appears prominently and vividly in Joe Brainard’s “Bolinas Journal,” found in Brainard’s Collected Writings).

From the New York Times obituary:

“When Bob and I were first together, he had three things he would say,” Ms Hawkins said. “One of them was ‘I’ll never live in a house with a woman who writes.’ One of them was ‘Everybody’s wife wants to be a writer.’ And one of them was ‘If you had been going to be a writer, you would have been one by now.’ That pretty much put the cap on it. I was too married, too old and too late, but he was wrong.”

She added: “I think a part of what attracted Bob to me was competences I had within myself, but it was as if once I was within his purview, those competences were only to be used for his needs, in the space where we lived, and not as though they were my own.”

“What I was really fighting for wasn’t the right to be some kind of brilliant writer,” she said. “I was fighting for the right to write badly until it got better.”

It did, once she and Mr. Creeley separated around 1975 and she stopped writing surreptitiously.

I like how the obituary ends:

Ms. Hawkins could bluntly revert to her Texas frontier forthrightness, as she did once when Neal Cassady, the wheelman in the cross-country trips that Jack Kerouac chronicled in “On the Road,” came for a visit and commandeered her car. …

“Get in back, Neal,” she is said to have declared. “It’s my car and you’re a lousy driver.”

Here’s a video of Bobbie reading from one of her memoirs:

HawkinsReading

 

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