The poems of If I Were Writing This, Robert Creeley's first major collection since the highly praised Life & Death (1998), have an "aching sweetness" that speak to the preciousness of life as the poet both faces his own mortality and simultaneously looks on a world suddenly more precarious and fragile. In these poems there is longing, a twinge of regret sometimes, a bit of nostalgia, the sadness of passing time, but finally no regrets and no self-pity, just an understanding that this is what it is to be human, an acknowledgment that life is uncertain but also bracing and positive.
Creeley himself comments: "Given the bleak vulnerability of the world and of our own country's dogmatic commitment to violence, what can either poet or poetry do? For one thing, insist on feeling—insist on witness—insist on being here, in this 'phenomenal world,' as Lawrence called it, 'which is raging and yet apart.' Age brings experience, not wisdom; age makes time actual—each day another—until there is no more. These poems have been my company, my solace, my feelings, my heart. When they cannot speak, it will all be silence."