For anyone interested in American poetry post-WW2 at its experimental, processual best, & who was not able to pick up the set of Collected Volumes (very expensive indeed) or only owns a few (there were many!) of the small-press chapbooks & books Larry Eigner published during his life-time, this is THE BOOK. Here is what Lynn Hejinian had to say about it: “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.”
The press release:
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 Typewritersshowcases 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.