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: The Selected Poems of Larry Eigner 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 which remain a primary inspiration for many younger writers, including those in the Language movement that began in the 1970s. In its two sections—Swampscott and Berkeley, named for the two locales where Eigner lived and worked—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 definitive selection of Eigner’s poems, and will serve well not only poets and students of poetry, but readers and writers of every vein.
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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 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.