SUSTAINING AIR: The Life and Poetry of Larry Eigner
Please join us for our very first event in The Flow Chart Foundation’s newly ADA-accessible Flow Chart Space!
In celebration of the publication of Sustaining Air: The Life of Larry Eigner (University of Alabama Press, 2023), author Jennifer Bartlett will offer an audio-visual presentation and be joined in conversation by Charles Bernstein.
On Sustaining Air: The Life of Larry Eigner
The biography of a poet seminal to postwar American poetry
The poet Larry Eigner (1927–1996) was a key figure in New American poetry, which grew out of the Black Mountain School and San Francisco Renaissance, and a major influence on the Language poets. Eigner also had cerebral palsy as the result of an accident at birth. It is fortuitous that the poet lived his life in two locations vibrant in both poetics and disability activism. Except for brief periods attending camp and school, he lived with his parents in Swampscott, Massachusetts, until the age of 51. Later, he moved to Berkeley, California, at the height of the disability rights movement. In the 1950s, Eigner attended Camp Jened, which later became famous in the film Crip Camp.
Bartlett’s biography covers every significant phase of Eigner’s life: his childhood and young adulthood when he began typing poems with one finger on the manual typewriter that was a bar mitzvah gift; his first publications and the maturation of his poetic interests through correspondence with poets of the era; and after his move to Berkeley, the ever-expanding circle of friends, poets, caretakers, and collaborators he established there. The result is a deeply insightful account of an utterly distinctive voice whose influence widens and deepens with each new generation that encounters him.
Jennifer Bartlett is the author of four books of poetry. With Sheila Black and Michael Northen, she coedited Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability. Bartlett’s poetry, nonfiction, and curatorial work has appeared in The New York Times, Poetry Magazine, Typo, among many other places. With George Hart, she edited Momentous Inconclusions: The Life and Work of Larry Eigner.
Charles Bernstein’s most recent book is Topsy-Turvy (2021) from the University of Chicago Press. His work was the subject of The Poetry of Idiomatic Insistences, edited by Paul Bove, the Fall 2021 issue of boundary 2. Along with co-editor Hank Lazer, his series at the University of Alabama Press published both the Eigner biography and an Eigner Selected Poems, for which he wrote a foreword. He lives in Brooklyn and Valatie, NY. [photo: Paul Stephens]
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