In late 2000, a chance meeting between Acton resident poet Robert Clawson and Robert Creeley sowed the seeds for the Robert Creeley Award. At the town’s invitation, on April 11, 2001, Creeley returned to Acton to become the first recipient of the Robert Creeley Award and to visit with students at the Acton-Boxborough Regional High School.
The Robert Creeley Foundation, born at the Acton Memorial Library, formed to sustain an annual award and to expand the scope of activities to embrace town organizations and businesses. Until his death in 2005, Creeley participated in the selection process for subsequent award winners and looked forward to his visit to Acton each year. Galway Kinnell, Yusef Komuyakaa, Carolyn Forché, Sonia Sanchez, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Gary Snyder are a few of the past Robert Creeley Award winners.
The Robert Creeley Foundation honors the legacy of Robert Creeley–Acton Native, award-winning poet, and passionate teacher. Through its Robert Creeley Award, presented annually to an acclaimed poet, Helen Creeley Student Poetry Prize, and Student Broadside Project, the RCF promotes poetry as a vital and integral presence within the lives of students, artists, and the community at large. It fosters and enriches community life by increasing access to, educational opportunities in, and a deep appreciation for poetry and the arts.