Calligraphy Typewriters: The Selected Poems of Larry Eigner
Author: Larry Eigner
Editors: Curtis Faville and Robert Grenier
Publisher: University of Alabama Press (2017)
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 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.
“Following publication of the massive (and magnifcent) 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.”