Well, it's official! Stanford University Press has formally announced the January 2010 publication of The Collected Poems of Larry Eigner, which Robert Grenier and I co-edited. A labor of over seven years--which involved the tracking down of obscure publications, pouring over an almost limitless mass of typescripts (some in imprecise versions), the meticulous exact setting of over three thousand poems (to establish reliable texts) whose formal organizations on the page were unique for each poem, and finally the creation of an error-free camera-ready copy transmitted directly to the printer--the finished work will arrive in 4 volumes, totaling 1868 pages. The image above is of the front panel, spine and front flap of the dustwrapper of volume I, whose basic design idea was mine; the succeeding three volume jackets are variations on this first one.
The image above is the rear panel and rear flap. The whole image can be viewed in expanded form--derived from its original PDF format spread--by clicking on the image below, assuming your computer can display it.
The effort to bring this behemoth into existence owes its impetus to Robert Grenier, who pre-visioned the collection two decades ago when he began to assist Larry in establishing accurate, edited copies of his work. As those who would know about Larry's work habits and limitations at his writing desk, the task of undertaking this huge job would have been impossible without Bob's initial effort, over time, to produce over a thousand finished edited typescripts in collaboration with Larry--which constituted the major contribution to our joint labors.
The existing major Eigner archive collections at Kansas and Stanford were both compared with all other known versions of Eigner's work, and thanks are due to the respective staffs of those two institutions, The Green Library at Stanford, and the Kenneth Spencer Library at Lawrence, Kansas.
The project was supported by Larry's Brother (and copyright holder for the Estate) Richard Eigner, who was responsible for bringing Larry to Berkeley from the family home in Swampscott, Massachusetts in 1978; the whole project could not have been completed without his help and encouragement. The Collected Poems is a tribute to the affection and care which characterized the Eigner family's regard for Larry, throughout his life, and it's an inspiration, as well, to those afflicted with disabilities--as to us all!--that through understanding, intellectual and emotional nourishment, they can achieve great things.
For my own part, I'm proud to have been able to contribute my energies and time. It was an adventure! You can't truly know the work of a great writer until you copy-read him for accuracy and content. Our joint hope is that a wider readership will finally be able to share our enthusiasm and wonder at Larry Eigner's poetry, presented for the first time in its entirety.
Stanford University Press, which stood by us despite its present constricted financial standing, deserves everyone's thanks. The Collected Eigner, like the Press's previous five-volume edition of the work of Robinson Jeffers, is a tribute to its commitment to preserving and showcasing significant literary work, despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Our editor at Stanford, Norris Pope, was a true prince, throughout our long relationship, extending deadlines, and accommodating our need for more textual space. I can't thank him enough for his generosity, decency, and steadying hand.
For those who may wish to pre-order their copy of the 4-volume set, you may go directly here (http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=8058) to Stanford University Press online. At $150 per set, it's a steal!