Calligraphy Typewriters is a landmark publication in contemporary poetry, the first and only single-volume gathering of Larry Eigner’s most significant and celebrated poems of the several thousand that constitute his remarkable life’s work.
Larry Eigner began writing poetry at age eight and was first published at age nine. Revered by poets and artists across a broad spectrum of generations and schools, Eigner’s remarkably moving poetry was created through enormous effort: because of severe physical disabilities, he produced his texts by typing with only one index finger and thumb on a 1940 Royal manual typewriter, creating a body of work that is unparalleled in its originality.
Calligraphy Typewriters showcases the most celebrated of Eigner’s several thousand poems, which are an important part of the Black Mountain/Projectivist movement that began in the 1950s, and remain a primary inspiration for many younger writers, including those in the Language movement that began in the 1970s. In its two sections—named for the two locales where Eigner lived and worked, Swampscott and Berkeley—the volume traces his fantastic perception of the ordinary and his zeal for language. Eigner’s use of visual space, metaphor, and description provide fascinating insights into both his own life and the world that surrounded him. This volume maintains the distinctive visual spacing of his original typescripts, reminders of his method, aesthetic sensibility, and creative ability to compose on the typewriter.
A collection that reimagines the ordinary, Calligraphy Typewriters is the definative selection of Eigner’s poems, and will serve well not only poets and students of poetry, but also readers and writers of every vein.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR/EDITORS
Widely respected American poet Larry Eigner, the author of over 75 books and broadsides, was born “palsied from hard birth” (as he phrased it) in Lynn, Massachusetts, on August 7, 1927. With the exception of two teenage years in residence at the Massachusetts Hospital School in Canton, Eigner spent his first fifty years at home in his parents’ house in Swampscott, Massachusetts, where he was cared for by his mother, Bessie, and his father, Israel, and where he came to do his writing in a space prepared for him on the glassed-in front porch basically every day.
Curtis Faville has worked as a teacher, editor, and publisher with degrees in English, creative writing, and landscape architecture. He has published four collections of poetry—Stanzas for an Evening Out, Ready, Wittgenstein’s Door, and Metro—as well as books by Bill Berkson, Ted Greenwald, and Larry Eigner, among others, under the L Publications/Compass Rose Books imprint. He maintains an eclectic Internet blog, The Compass Rose.
Poet, essayist, and visual artist Robert Grenier has taught literature and creative writing at UC Berkeley, Tufts, Franconia College, and Mills College. He edited Robert Creeley’s first Selected Poems for Scribner’s, and subsequently edited three books of poems by Larry Eigner: Waters / Places / A Time; Windows / Walls / Yard / Ways; and readiness / enough / depends / on. Working with Eigner, Grenier completed the preparation of some 1,800 “established texts” of Eigner’s poems. An archive of Grenier’s own work—the Robert Grenier Papers—is housed in Stanford University’s Green Library.
PRAISE FOR CALLIGRAPHY TYPEWRITERS
“Following publication of the massive (and magnificent) four-volume edition of The Collected Poems of Larry Eigner, its two editors, Robert Grenier and Curtis Faville, set about the difficult task of making a selection of Eigner’s poems for a volume that could be more handily used as a travel companion, or as a classroom text. Probably no one at this point knows Eigner’s work better than Grenier and Faville, and their familiarity with it has allowed them to identify for inclusion in this book key works, indicative of the diverse moves and moods with which Eigner negotiated panoramas, corners, and crevices of the perceivable world. Eigner cast clarity onto the real, variously catching change at its precise swift moment and tracking the drift of slow specks of notability past the senses. The editors of Calligraphy Typewriters: The Selected Poems of Larry Eigner have managed to intensify his oeuvre, even as they make it more available. The book reminds us always to attend to the live world that the senses activate and phrases ruffle.”
Modern and Contemporary Poetics
Charles Bernstein and Hank Lazer, series editors
ISBN: 978-0-8173-5874-7 Paper
ISBN: 978-0-8173-9054-9 Ebook