Monday, April 26, 2010

On looking into Larry Eigner's poems

1) Uses the word "recession" in its old-fashioned sense, i.e., not economic

2) Death cries wolf throughout

3) Is the great American poet of weather, as Hopkins is the great English poet of weather(snow/rain/clouds/heat/wind (so much wind!)/lightning/showers/rainbow); is alert both day and night

4) (Closes parens more often than you think

5) What to do about typos in the ts.s?

6) So much sky: was he looking up?

7) So many birds and trees (leaves/branches): he was looking out

8) Did he love ice cream?

9) Attics, parked cars, beaches, sand, trees, trucks, hills, cats and dogs, radios, motors, flies, airplanes

10) Writes of books the way ekphrastic poets write about paintings


Geof Huth said...


It does seem to me that the care Curtis and Grenier took to reproduce the originals may have been a little too absolute. Are we expected to believe that the typos are intentional? (For the most part, I can't even make an argument for any of the typos having potential additional meaning over the word spelled correctly.) And what about the double spaces between words? Are we certain that Larry Eigner, a man whose motor skills were not good, really didn't simply hit the space bar once more than he'd intended? These are interesting questions, on issues that are relatively rare in this huge book (I'm through only volume 1 so far).


Steven Fama said...

Howdy Don:

Love these almost Eigner-like in concision comments on the "(early) poems." Thanks for sharing. I think each of your comments is spot-on. I do think that one the items in your # 9 -- cats -- deserves its own special category, given the number of such mentions in Eigner's early poems!

Your focus here on "(early) poems" piques my interest particularly in relation to your comment # 10 (re Eigner writing about books the way some poets write about art).

If there are a lot written in response to books in the "early poems" wait until you see the number after (and in the years just before) he gets to Berkeley!

The other way I think about this -- and I was just looking at this the other night -- there seems to be relatively few "early poems" (1950s and early 1960s) written in response to books. Do you have a rough count of how many you've seen in that time period?

Regarding Eigner and typos, may I suggest here Ben Friedlander's post "Missing Larry," including the comment stream thereto, where I meander a bit on Eigner's typos and Ben F. offers additional salient remarks on that topic.

Don Share said...

I'm with you, Geof!

Steven, thank you yet again. I love your moniker in that comment stream, by the way. A rough count of poems written in response to books? So far I'd say 4 or 5, and I'm only at the earliest of the 60s. That's still more than most poets manage in a lifetime - and nobody did this quite like LE. He lifts/rewrites/comments/spacebars/ and loves on things he's read. Oddly, the one poem in this vein that falters a little is the one in imitation, more or less, of Creeley. It's a fine poem in its own right, yet not so Creeleyesque - to this reader, anyway. I'm also counting, by the way, his versions/translations of things he's picked up in books...

Best to you both! - Don

Steven Fama said...

Hi Don,

I've been away, and thanks for the additional comments. I think you are correct that there are about a half-dozen poems in Eigner's early work that respond to (or arise from) poem-books or the like that he had read. My guesstimate is that there are five times that number among the poems written in his last twenty or so years of his writing. I think you nail it here when you write that these poems reflect that Eigner "loves on" the things he's read.

Steven Fama said...

and P.S. --

dang ingenious to use the old-time postcard of Swampscott to illustrate yr post!

It reminds me that I googled up Eigner's home address. Of course it shows how it is today, but still, scroll around a bit and it does show how close to the water (about one-half a mile, it looks like) he lived. Take a look, if you please!

Don Share said...

Nice! Thanks!

I've now found about two dozen pomes derived from his reading and I'm only up to '63...

Steven Fama said...

Yes, I can well imagine you are up to two dozen. It gets hard to keep track -- if you don't limit it to poems written in response to poetry he's read, the number gets large quick. And then there are poems that arise from music and shows on TV...

Don Share said...

Even more, yes.

While we're caviling, I note that R.G., in his intro to vol. III, which covers 1966-1978, makes reference to Eigner's interest in PBS. PBS, just so readers know, wasn't started till 1970. Yrs. pedantically, - Don

Steven Fama said...

Yes, the national network didn't get going till the 1970s . . . though there were the independent public TV stations before that, including I'm pretty certain the one in Boston.

Don Share said...

Indeed, but PBS is an anachronism in the intro. I'm just being a stickler.