Monday, April 27, 2009

Larry Eigner's Masterpiece - A Post-Modernist Monument

For those readers who don't know it, the work of Larry Eigner offers a unique example of a poetry whose charm and lightness of touch completely belies its underlying strength and reach. 

How did he do it?  Well, it wasn't easy.  Larry was born disabled, and spent the rest of his life mostly confined to a wheelchair. They thought he couldn't talk at first, they thought he might even be mentally handicapped. Little did they know. 

Larry grew up in a tight-knit Jewish family in Swampscott, Massachusetts, within earshot of the Atlantic Ocean. Schooling was tough, but Larry was precocious. By the age of 13 he'd become adept at composing traditional rhymed poems. At his Bar-Mitzvah, he was given a typewriter--and he set about teaching himself to type with one finger. This was the way he would make all his written communications for the rest of his life! 

Unable to move about freely, Larry wrote his poems in an enclosed porch, punching them out one slow letter (key) at a time. It was hard work, but he kept at it. Little by little, he started getting magazine acceptances. By 1951, he'd started to define a personal style; it was pretty much unlike anything that had come before. The words were scattered across the page, seemingly at random, but as you came to understand them, with an inner logic and carefully considered sequent animation that took your eye from syllable to syllable, word to word, phrase to phrase, in an inspired dance of rhythmic variation and cunning observation. Here was a poet who could think on the run, whose changes were often so abstract and improbable, you wondered if he were actually an alien from another planet.

By 1960, he'd published three books--the first by Creeley's Divers Press in Majorca, From the Sustaining Air, and he'd been included in the watershed anthology, Donald Allen's New American Poetry 1945-1960. 

The following poem isn't Larry's longest, but it bids fair to be considered his most successful long(er) poem. It's been a favorite of mine since I first read it in his Selected Poems book, (Oyez, 1972), edited by Samuel Charters. Observant readers will note that the poem is presented in Courier typeface, an equivalently spaced typewriter font that was designed to accommodate the uniform incremental spacing of the traditional typewriter's functionality, a limitation of that now-obsolete device of which younger generations of artisan-writers are probably unaware, since personal computer software routinely measures out distributed text automatically, mimicking traditional typesetting. One thing I was not able to reproduce was the proper leading, or the vertical spacing between lines, which seems impossible with the blogger service program I use. So we'll have to make do with slightly altered vertical spacing, though the horizontal space--with its precise vertical alignments--is accurate to Larry's original holographic typescript.     

the music,   the rooms

silence silence silence silence sound

          on the walls

   the beach ravelling

   times advance

    or back up

         around earth

       electric poles

      the sun a reflected color


         how distance is to some birds

                   in the wind



              the circling air


                the power

               with desperate ease

           food for me hits the water

           without break, the cries

             the meaning of change

         information shifted,  player-piano

           on the screen,   the swimming moon

             enters eclipse

           out the window, and other station

           none of us is watching

         the cabinet

                      instrument forgotten

            the clock shakes out

           head bent from the wing

                    in a live broadcast

               a case for various things

                   dry grassy fields

                  the blank sky

               wampum gulls broke shells

                such eyes


                             a malnutrition


                             straightens hair it turns blond

                              scurvy is wiped out

                          the dogs come, the group

                                      on bikes

                             the street comes

                              the North Sea

                                studio on a ship

                                   pivot   spun

                                      dark life


                                        leaving the island

                                       the dim expanding miles

                                    a steady white light

                                       they might drive headlong into

                                          the mist like a magnet

                                      blows   lost bearings

                                        nest in fisherman's pocket

                                                  the wash


" ... distant thunder ... Nearer and nearer came the strange commingling sound of sleigh bells, mixed with the rumbling of an approaching storm ... I gazed in wonder and astonishment ... They passed like a cloud through the branches of the high trees, through the underbrush and over the ground ... They fluttered all about me; gently I caught two in my hands and carefully concealed them under my blanket.

      I now began to realize they were mating ... "

                -- Chief Pokagan, describing an onset of the now extinct passenger pigeon, in Michigan, May 1850

This may seem superficially to unroll sort of like a Nickelodeon, a turning roll of punched paper with old-time-y ragtime piano music played automatically by a tinny upright. In fact, that impression is part of the poem: "information shifted,     player-piano"--which queues us, ironically, like an aside on the meaning of the process. The poem is kind of like an abstract mental movie--"a graph of the mind moving"--as the poet Philip Whalen once said. The way the lines are set, horizontally shifting back and forth, underscores this effect. We're at a seaside aspect, meditating about the ecological relationship of man to resource, there are birds, kids on bicycles, detritus lying around on the beach-sand, maybe a ship on the horizon, the radio is playing in the background, night follows day, the earth turns, the soap-opera of quotidian event folds and unfolds.

So what does the quotation, which follows the poem, rather than leading it off, mean? What is its relation to the meaning of the poem? Is it somehow an explanation, or a source of the poem's subject-matter? Birds mating under a blanket on an Indian's lap! Whoa! Sex! 

From a traditional point of view, this doesn't read like a "poem" at all. The lines occur in a way which seems gratuitous; there's no "rhyme" or regular rhythmic design which would indicate a musical context. It almost seems as if the phrases and descriptive notations are laid out to follow each other in a sequence of meditative calm, rather in the manner of an automatic dream journal, during a state of mind brought on by an artifically-induced state of semi-suspended consciousness. Rational and super-rational connections follow one another freely. Black hair turns blond, a navigational instrument suggests "mist like a magnet," gulls dive into the surf while "food for me hits the water". 

This is a poetry carefully constructed out of a constellation of perception(s). Event and imaginative play are interwoven seamlessly into an integrated meditation. Eschewing a tightly constructed poetic pattern of stanzas or syntactically linked assertions, the poet presents us with a naked progression of items--"a case for various things"--spun in "the wash" of chaotic experience as it is received from the five senses and the mind's ceaseless forming and reforming of data. Dream and waking occur simultaneously in the context of the poem's relaxed susceptibility to suggestion, to metaphoric leaps, shifting interest(s), its wandering, unsettled, restless focus.

Perhaps the poet is suggesting that his meditative state is akin to an orgasmic vacancy--"mating under a blanket"--induced by the intensity of his own vision, rather than by a drug or physiological emergency. It's nothing short of amazing. 

The poem is Post-Modern in offering a meditative sequence that is neither "musical" nor syntactically predictable (connected). Things happen without apparent external logic, but with an imaginative priority which is true to the way thinking actually occurs. Our thoughts are not logical, they're not organized the way traditional poetry is. Poetry like this brings us closer to the phenomenological realities of actual sensibility, provides a glimpse into the magic of perception, of what it's really like to be alive.  


Anonymous said...

do "check out" Shadow play

Number Five 1997

The Larry Eigner issue...

a photo of his "My desk on front porch Swampscott, Massachusett (1976 or 1977)" is included..

that must be his "new" typewriter!

Bob Grenier did the line piece as cover..


"one letter at a time"

a favorite of mine of Larry's:

-Sparrow 13 shape shadow elements move

- areas lights height

-The World and its Streets, Places

-Things Stirring Together or Far Away

-Waters/Places/A Time ( which is yet in it s original shrink-wrap)

-readiness enough depends on

-Windows Walls Yard Ways

plus what you say Selected Poems

plus plus you can go to the first 3 series of Cid's ORIGIN or

to The Gist of Origin

I have a "cute" story ... but, there is just so much I will put "out there" on the net

thanks for the post....

and, I cld say more

chow (ciao)


Curtis Faville said...

Hold your horses, there, Ed, the post is still under construction.

Anonymous said...

the only "true" image of horses that I (can)

is that Ben-Hur sequence also
done one frame at a time..

in the silent film version


also that later color version also terrific!


I will hold on to the ants-in-my-pants

but, I get soooo excited

when everything "clicks" in my mind/eye...

good essay so far I just read it as it is so far as you have "pinned" down it...


off to Value Village to buy some "new" shorts

...guess whom?

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eddie watkins said...

Yeah what does post-modern mean? I usually associate it with any technique that foregrounds the artificiality of works, but Eigner must be the most natural poet around, devoid of blatant techniques, with words that come as close to the perceptive sensibility as possible. Natural as looking and breathing.

But I like the artificial stuff too.

Any idea how long it took him to write a poem like the one you feature? It gives the impression of being written in about the time it takes someone to read it. Just amazing.

Curtis Faville said...

Post-Modern means what you want it to mean. What is Modernism?--there's disagreement about that too. Obviously, Joyce is a lot different than Dickens, but is Huysmans more modern than Hemingway? Take your pick.

I think post-Modernism is anything that works differently than the benchmark high-spots of Modernism, hence "post-".

Does civilization "progress"?


Larry typed his poems laboriously one finger at a time. Typing the poem above would probably have taken him at least an hour, maybe longer. Some believe that that effort, that delay, is responsible in some measure for his style, which cuts out transitions and bridges and simply foregrounds key words and images. It's alike a stepping off of parameters. Shortcuts. Concision.

What makes the poem interesting, aside from its changes and ingenious unconscious "deep" imagery is its construction. The phraseology is relaxed, but the separate pieces have varying degrees of attraction and repulsion, which is part of the cunning suprises you experience when you read it.

eddie watkins said...

I guess I miswrote. Didn't mean speed but rather that the effort it takes to read them seems equal to the effort it took to write them. Some levels of difficulty, yes, but also breezy and effortless.

I've read quite a bit of his work but have no sense of the "shape" of his writing career. Was there an arc of development, or any different periods, or did he stick to the "same" thing for a lifetime?

Curtis Faville said...

One writer who was close to Larry towards his later life is of the opinion that Larry "memorized" whole poems in his head (while composing them), then "regurgitated" them on the typewriter.

I tend to doubt this, but it's intuitively tempting to imagine that for someone so impaired, memorization might indeed be a developed aptitude.

Perhaps related to the skill that chess masters are said to have, being able to fully work out dozens of possible variations to each initial move. Larry was a free reviser, often making wholesale changes to poems from across his career; but he also tended to credit (privilege) original inspiration, even to the extent of preserving "mistakes" (Allen Ginsberg's "first thought, best thought").

Ed Baker said...

found a print out of a neat article folded and inside Ed Sanders'


how it got t h e r e a mystery to me:

The Same Old Things: The poetry of Larry Eigner Tom Hibbard

it is in February 2004 Jacket 25 end of article the link:

I also sent you a pdf of something but it "bounced back" too big for your mail-box? I bet-cha.

hey hey the shifts... like life itself seemingly random and

instantaneous..... there is lots of "space" (silence) between just what is and just what ain't.

and, in the article Cid is quoted: 'the random quality[of Eigner's poetry] is often due to the brevity of the poet's attentions, acute and wandering. Finding every distraction a focal point [he gives] glimpses and glances, queer connections of the most familiar'.

... in his/our present-perfect world, eh?

or is it "plue-perfect"?

as, also, in this essay:

"[...] Charles Olson writes of poetry in general,

What really matters: that a thing, anything, impinges on us by a more important fact, its self-existence, without reference to any other thing..."

sorry Points/Counterpoints

"bounced back" it is I think all-so aprappoe to o


eddie watkins said...

I could see his poems as pre-existing in the large spaces of his mind, then getting typed out one painful letter at a time.

It's remarkable how he managed that tight focus on each letter while at the same time creating poems of such open spaces. Even many of the tiny ones are focused and huge.

There's a very refreshing passivity that comes through. A letting things happen. An easy breathing. The poems are like projective verse without all the huffing and puffing.

Curtis Faville said...



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Curtis Faville said...

The last post we received from you was the very brief one yesterday regarding "post-Modern".

No longer one was received.

I'm not aware of any mail or systems problem that would have interfered with your post. I have never censored a post.

All best.

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Anonymous said...

My guess is that had those folks over at the poetry foundation had read

Saroyan's The Human Comedy or his

The Time of Your Life

or any of the dozens of other of his "things" they would not have censored you
even though William ain't Aram it s all so re:ductive(and forgotten) anyway.

is that Stanford 4 volumes Complete Works (Poetrry?) of LE still "in the pipe-line" ?

Ed (not Eddie)

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Anonymous said...

CO CLD really dance... for an huge man he did have some and various "moves"


Vincent's nephew Henry had an huge hand in doing Polis is This

(order a copy from Ferrini Films and the Vincent piece is (also) terrific
I breathe hard and slow and deep when I hear certain things this is one of them...


when asked if i play an instrument I have frequently replied

"I mostly play The Typewriter and sometimes play The Radio

both require a good ear and full attention.

I have a cpl of tapes that reading in Berkeley when? 1963 or 4 or 5?

thanks for linking to this lots of young 'poets" cld do well by listening to and watching CO and others sing and dance...just remind them to keep their mouths shut and pay ALL attention.... especially to the details

notice that typewriter?

looks like same model elite type as Eigner's

(and, probably, Creeley's)

... but, what do I know?

eddie watkins said...

Georgie (not Porgie), I thought abt that "artificiality" comment afterwards and realized how off it was. What's more artificial than all those old-time forms we've inherited?

But still there's something abt the extreme foregrounding of that artificiality that I associate with pm. Like intentional paint drips.

I don't really care though. I'm with you on the BURNING (and all the closet Romanticism).

My father-in-law has Olson eyebrows, and is very proud of 'em.

Ever read Olson's Paris Review interview (late '60's)? What off the cuff incoherency. You'd think his eyebrows were doing the talking.

eddie watkins said...

Also, re PM:

Not like there's anything new under the old Sol.

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Anonymous said...

"eddie watkins"...

noboddhi is responsible
any-boddhi's understanding...

if you
follow the




"go with the flow"

you will


come to

The City

(a community of all cohearency and a sense of

The Humor of Just What Is...

if you "get my drift"

Wieners had this and Blackburn and Michelain (Harvwey Silver) and many others...

certainly Rakosi, Eigner, Enslin, Corman,,,


Ed "Kokie-san" Baker

pee est:

what if suddenly
you discovered that
I was the sane one?

... I just made that up in 1987 on july 12
# 43,221

eddie watkins said...

Georgie, thanks for the info. The more you look into these labels the more (& less) they mean.

I understand Romanticism as originating in the old Romances, but also as a focus on individual sensibility rather than universal objective sense (broadly).

I am NOT for burning closet Romanticism.

I also meant the incoherency comment as a compliment, esp in that format. Olson outdid Bob Dylan's babble. Often nonsense gets deeper into meaning systems, and reveals and means more.

Ed - I get the flow but don't get why you're speaking directly to me.

Are you saying I need to loosen up and piss down a hill and follow it to Zen City?

Kirby Olson said...

Curtis, you write:

"Things happen without apparent external logic, but with an imaginative priority which is true to the way thinking actually occurs. Our thoughts are not logical, they're not organized the way traditional poetry is. Poetry like this brings us closer to the phenomenological realities of actual sensibility, provides a glimpse into the magic of perception, of what it's really like to be alive."

I think poetry, like mathematics, provides a glimpse of an order that was not yet seen beforehand. But this poem, as you say, has no "apparent external logic." One of the beauties of poetry is that one can FIND a pattern in it. You yourself say that there is no pattern here, or no apparent pattern here, and it's a string of unrelated thoughts (the leap to Kenya has no relationship to the thematics of the poem that I can see, and was apparently kicked off by the mention of "malnutrition."

I think this is actually logically inaccurate because Kenya had pretty good nutrition in the 1970s in most segments of the population, compared to say Zimbabwe today, in which only the communist party elite are doing well, or in Malawi, which is a nutritional disaster. So I think Eigner is making at best an inaccurate inference in terms of his Kenyan reference (someone who liked to throw the word racist around, might describe the associative leap as racist, or geographicist -- "over there somewheres people are starving").

The lines are lean and neat, but the coherence is missing. At any rate, I don't think that MY mind works like this, although his mind might. I wonder what Eigner's IQ was, exactly.

Was his ability to create patterns, and to perceive patterns, above the average, or below the average? These are the questions I ask when I am dealt his poems.

Could he grasp sequences?

Could he make meaningful poems that showed us a higher order?

You yourself indicate that there is no external logic imposed on these lines, and that they are therefore random.

But then you also indicate that someone has argued that he thought out his poems in advance, and held the whole poems in his mind as he typed them -- which indicates that they are not random, but part of a larger personal whole.

And you also argue that there is a careful "inner logic" to the poem, but you don't really tell us what this logic is, except you give us the one spurious clue that the birds are having sex beneath the blanket (I doubt if this is an accurate reading of the poem).

Georgie won't be able to wait to jump on me for questioning this poem's validity, but it's not really what I'm doing.

I'm questioning your own understanding of the poem. In the ending lines you indicate that there is no external logic, and yet you do argue that there is an internal logic. It's as if he is being responsive to local lore, and to geography, but then he is leaping to Kenya.

Can anyone explain the Kenya reference?

If the whole poem isn't coherently wrapped around a thematic center, and doesn't say something meaningful about our world that we haven't noticed, what job is the poem accomplishing?

I always have the feeling with Eigneramuses that a kind of special pleading is involved: in which the reader is saying, I'm so evolved. I like this poetry that no one else can understand.

But then I feel that something similar is happening with Charles Olson and with John Ashbery. I don't think a larger vision is actually unfolding in these obscure and difficult poets.

Olson's misunderstandings of Whitehead and many others are garbled into a pastiche that no one quite dares to challenge.

Ashbery's flotsam and jetsam doesn't even attempt to create a whole.

But perhaps that is what postmodernism is: it gives up on the notion that there is any meaningful whole, and simply gives us a messy lot of debris, that seem connected, but which aren't, in fact, connected. That there IS no inner logic.

And maybe as we try to look at the world, and try to sense some LOGOS in it, we have always found a logic there that is actually missing.

If this, in a sense, is what Eigner is saying, then I think it's quite brilliant. But I don't know this for sure. You indicate that he was not mentally handicapped. But was he mentally gifted? Was he a genius? Could he have done well on a non-timed IQ test (which would account for his disability, and yet allow us to see if he could perceive order out of chaos).

I think you skirt around larger issues here: and perform a sleight of hand in which you can have it both ways. That there is a tight inner logic, and that there isn't.

Which is it?

If the tight inner logic is precisely that of seeming to perpetrate such logic throughout the poem, only to ultimately deny it, then this is a very skillful poem indeed.

Eigner is a very curious case. Either he is a symptom of PC run amok, or else he's a skillful and talented writer along the lines of Charles Olson (who I think ultimately also denies any kind of LOGOS holding the world together, in spite of his massive attempt to see something in POLIS which he can't ever name, and which he doesn't even think can be named, which is what postmodernism itself largely posits -- the end of any kind of global meaning), or else: it's some tertium quid (third something) that I haven't accounted for, and have yet to understand.

Thanks for bringing him up again. I keep meaning to get back to this writer and explore his case, but it's like there's a massive electrical fence around this body of work -- and anyone who questions it, or tries to examine what's really going on there, is very heavily punished for the crime of doing so.

I find THAT to be extremely interesting, too.

Why is he so little read, so little known, and yet so violently defended by such a tiny group? It's all very curious. I suspect the worst (that it's just another symptom of PC politics), but it could be something else, too.

The individual lines are really beautiful in maintaining a certain TONE, even if the thematic unity is missing, or at least, a larger vision, is missing.

KENYA is symptomatic of that.

Can anyone explain that term thrown into the poem??

Anonymous said...

was not "picking on" you... as I seldom pick....


"bushy eyebrows" ? wanna see Bushy Eyebrows" and see/hear from whom Charles Olson learned how to perform/present his "schtich"?

WATCH the entire 1945 film...

Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl..

Charles Laughton...

just the scene where he "jibes" with the king's ( also bushy-eyed) advisors

worth the "price of admission! (free on hulu)

in fact track down e v e r y film Laughton ever made... one could learn everything necessary to read/write/present poetry from CL and/or CO

these guys knew their trade/craft and how to ply it...

and never pissed on the leeward side (into the wind)

Dylan is Dylan
Thomas is Thomas
Olsen is Olsen

what was the point? I dun-know. He's on second. and,
even this
point is


hey a twist on the usual/expected "and I don't give a damn" which was edited to "darn" but where I come from was ...

and, what's this got to do with Larry Eigner?

it's in the movie The Eigner Sanction.

Anonymous said...

well I am sure that I saw this same movie that Larry saw and wrote about...

the local was in a small Kenyan village a doctor and his little band of missionaries including his blond daughter

just follow the "stream" tis is a synop/outline/running discription of that movie...

and I think it might have been that "Dr Livingston, I presume" one though it could have been that Walter Reed one..

maybe I'll ambulate closer to the screen,

open another beer and finish watching

The Oxbow Incident

and, I betcha Larry watched Saturday Night at the Movies on a 12 inch portable B & W Philco same brand as his radio... but, now I am on thin ice
I never went and made my visit not a regrette nor an apologia

"just the facts"

such as they seem to be/are?

does a bushy beard count as a bushy I-brow?

geeze... if I keep this up
I'll have another terrific "book"

#3322: The Book of Huh

Curtis Faville said...


I should probably have said that Eigner's poem doesn't function along the lines of an "externally imposed" logic, but follows another kind of logic, that of dreams or "suspended" states of mind.

I think Eigner had a very large IQ.

How are poems which create mastering "orders" "higher" than poems like this? Mightn't they just be boring and predictable ways of thinking? I often have that very reaction to most dull traditional poems.

The quotation about the birds is not meant to be a "description" of what the poem is about--I thought I made that pretty clear. I threw it out for the peanut gallery to speculate about. What do YOU think it means?

Poems don't "accomplish jobs"--art isn't about work, it's about a representation, or a process. Works of art aren't automobiles and hair-brushes.

It strikes me that the poem is much more an accurate account of the thought processes that occur "under" our consciousness, than of the dictating super-ego of rational control.

The poem might be a better example of what we know about thought and consciousness than any attempt to present a "finished" "crafted" "organized" presentation of our perception(s).

All interest and comment on the work is welcome, Kirby, there's no fence around Larry's work, you won't be shocked or jolted for saying "the wrong thing."

Your questioning of the Kenya reference sort of begs the case. If our thoughts are not "logical" then events and senses and images may pop up without "belonging" to a rational train of thought. Poetry's greatest value may be its power to unlock the interesting phenomena of our mind(s), the imaginative connections which lie just under the layers of habitual practice. Freud posited brain activity which went on all the time, and would come out during sleep and create narratives and miracle plays--reinterpretations of all that data--most of it "unsorted"--which we receive through our senses.

The problem most people have is ACCESSING that part of their sensibility, of getting AT IT. Artists may be--certainly they are--in closer touch with their imaginative, deeper consciousness. Yes?

eddie watkins said...

The poem is the cloud of pigeons, discrete units cloudily connected, strange diffuse music, with gently caught quite specific hidden fertilities, but we all die out eventually.

Where's all this punishment and violence re Eigner happening, Kirby? Are you asking for it?

Ed Baker said...

I was for the life of me trying too

that famous Al Einstein
quote the one he made while riding on that bicycle that Guy Davenport gave him

ole Bushy Head-of-Gray-Hair said:

"More important than intelligence is imagination."

now, how'd he know
t h a t? How'd he know any thing?

Anonymous said...

well I found the original piece with that quote on it it was included in a note to a friend along with some "art/poems"

the actual and real Einstein quote was/is

"imagination is more important than knowledge"

but how I previously got it... works (also) for me..

( this is also a "lesson"

it s called "working 'it'!


re:vision? I mean how many drafts did Larry go through to get a single poem (piece) right?

and how long did it take to write it/

5 years? ten? a life-time?

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Kirby Olson said...

Interesting response, Curtis.

Tell me this: on what basis can you tell if a poet has a high IQ?

If a mathematician has a high IQ, other mathematicians can tell. Among poets, I don't know if it is as clear.

I'm not sure it is the crucial factor in poetry as it is in math.

So I guess I'm asking you to tell on what basis you think Eigner had a high IQ since his knowledge of geography (Kenya) seems to me to be off.

Kenya has always been one of the few prosperous places in Africa along with S. Africa, and what used to be Rhodesia. Kenya was about 90% Christian, and so was relatively functional.

It's sinking, now.

I can't figure out why he chose Kenya to represent malnutrition. Christian democracies tend to eat pretty well, globally-speaking, and comparatively-speaking.

eddie watkins said...

"I can't figure out why he chose Kenya to represent malnutrition."

Maybe a hungry pigeon flew over Kenya, once.

Does it matter?

Keats said Cortez discovered the Pacific.

Blake insisted the Earth was flat.

Ashbery said bats drool.

Kirby Olson said...

Title VII makes it illegal to harass a person on the basis of their creed. It also strongly warns against sexual harassment, defined as:

"derogatory comments, epithets, slurs, jokes; unwelcome sexual advances, propositions, or demands for sexual favors; unwelcome comments about an individual's body or appearance."

When "Georgie" orders me to "Relax my Lutheran ass cheeks" -- I think -- if this were a workplace -- he'd be in lots of trouble. Of course as an anonymous harasser hiding behind a pseudonym, ripping into me from the other side of a comment box, and humiliating me with this kind of leering speech, all I can do is cease to visit this blog, which is what I already did when he harassed me at Silliman's blog.

Now I will leave here, too.

Best wishes to you, Curtis.

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Curtis Faville said...

I refuse to edit out offensive comments, and I won't take sides in arguments like this, except on an intellectual basis.

Kirby does take a reactionary approach, with which I rarely agree.

I don't care if you two kiss and make up, or not, but please do visit the blog, and speak your mind about the subjects raised in my posts. Everyone's welcome.

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Ed Baker said...

don't kiss anyboddhi who has lip-stick oN! it s got lead and other garbage in it you might get Lead Poisning whixch will affect your ability to spell.. and
by no means "tongue" in...

mixing body fluids gets you AIDS, HERBBIES and/or

and, you'll never be able to
spell Korectly (again)
correctly and

you just also might get The Dreaded (god-like) Bushy Eyebrows!


now back to my Pigskins and The XNEN X2 about nasty
mutants who take over Manhattan!

eddie watkins said...



Mix those fluids!

Ed Baker said...

speaking of "flew-id" well
just go to the lake
by the little house that Lorine Niedecker washed clothes in!

the water was so clean you cold drink it... and sure made a terrific percolated pot of coffee... Chase and Sanborn

not so much
to change the subject but rather to "thicken the soup"

Eigner, Creeley, Niedecker about as "goodest" as it has EVER gotten.;;; especially in 20 th century.

try to find

Between Your House and Mine


Jenny Penberthy's

"Lorine Niedecker: Women and Poet"

and JP's "Sellected (Collected) LN poetry"

all very hard to come by...

... well, enough about you / let's talk about me!

also check out:

and, I got some "stuff" in Issue #7 winter 2008 pages 8 & 9
and in
Issue # 6 summer 2007
pages 5,6,7


Steve said...

Curtis, your readings of L.E., as well as your readings of Grenier and Saroyan, are fantastic, absolutely fantastic! Outstanding criticism and scholarship! I much admire and appreciate your reading(s).

Someday I'd love to see/have (always at hand, in my Library) an EIGNER/GRENIER/SAROYAN READER, by Curtis Faville...

Bests, Steve :)

Curtis Faville said...

My academic advisors during my Ph.D. candidacy years might have disagreed with your assessment, Steve. I'll do my best to live up to your expectations!

Jennifer Bartlett said...

Hi Curtis,

Great post! I love Larry in so many ways for so many reasons. One note: it's no longer appropriate to say someone is 'confined' to a wheelchair. That's Willbrook language. A wheelchair is something a person with a disability uses as a machine to get around -- just like one would use a cane, walker, or even typewriter!

Jennifer Bartlett said...

This is an odd conversation you all are having. It's a little too academic for my tastes, but there are a few things sticking out.

Someone used the word 'crippled.' Not to be PC, but what gives you the liberty to use that word.

What does Eigner's IQ have to do with the price of tea in China? For the record, IQ tests are worthless to people with CP because there is a component that demands fine motor skills. In any case, I don't know if you mean this, but you guys seem to be implying that Eigner HAD to be a genius because only a genius could overcome his physical state. This seems irrelevant. Eigner was a genius poet -- like say -- Michael Palmer or Silliman and I don't see anyone questioning their IQS.

Just curious, are any of YOU disabled. Do you know or spend time with people who have the level of movement that Eigner did?

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Curtis Faville said...

Maybe it's just PC speech for the disabled?

In our neighborhood, which is on a steep hillside, they built these crazy wheelchair access points on all the corners. But as everyone who's lived there knows, there's never been anyone trying to ride a wheelchair on those streets: It's impossible! They can't be navigated with them. Yet they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to re-pour these concrete curbs just because the law says they have to, or because they have this federal grant money. It's idiotic.

Jennifer, what language would you suggest to replace "confined in a wheelchair"?

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Jennifer Bartlett said...

Not surprisingly, Curtis is the only one who addressed my issues at all. If you guys are real thinkers, I would be happy to have a discussion with you. If you can only write things like, 'That's fucking stupid.' That's not my scene.

For the record, I have cerebral palsy and teach people who were as handicapped as Eigner.

Curtis, as far as your curb cut issue. I see your point, but it's a chicken or egg issue. As you may or may not know Eigner spent the second half of his life in Berkley. Why? HMMM. That is because Berkley is the most wheelchair accessible place in America. If you go there, you will see a much higher population of people with disabilities than anywhere else. So, without those 'stupid' curb cuts this never would have been started.

You would say 'using a wheelchair.' Sure, it's PC and I hate PC stuff, but why not help empower people.

I am sorry I was snippy about 'academia.' I am a poet who has decided, for whatever reason, not to engage in or learn the academic bullshit lingo. I think it kills poetry and excludes people. Yes, I am a so-called professor, but only of first-year composition.

Jennifer Bartlett said...


I just reread your stuff and realize that I may have overreacted. You just seem to be discussing Eigner's disability without much insight into what the disability actually means or is. I'm sorry if I reacted too strongly.

Eddie and that other guy's comments just seem bizarre and mean. Is that their game?

Curtis Faville said...

Let's talk about Larry.

The subject of Larry's poetry was never disability.

I read his work in the 1960's, not realizing or knowing that he was disabled in any way, I just loved the work.

My late son was disabled from age 4, so I have a background in this stuff.

eddie watkins said...

Jennifer, I really don't see where I made a mean comment. I didn't intend anything mean. Maybe snippy, but not mean.

I might've been a tad annoyed at the "too academic" comment because I don't think anything I said could be construed as academic.

Please don't lump me in with Kirby and his poetry killing comments.

My last comment was meant to be addressed to the blog in general, and was only intended to be (slightly) humorous.

Curtis Faville said...

I knew Larry briefly when he lived in Berkeley, published a pamphlet of his poems, and am the co-editor, with Robert Grenier, of his Collected Poems, due this Fall from Stanford University Press.

I don't know how anyone could deduce that I don't have much insight into disability, but I assure you it was not my intention to underestimate the challenges it presents.

There is a whole book to be written by someone about the subject, and Michael Davidson has written it! I haven't seen it yet, but expect to in due course.

Our task with the poems is not to make an issue out of his limitation, which he never did, but to present the work as he wrote it.

Ed Baker said...

well I was in SF/Berkeley/Richmond in the 60's and 70's..

don't recall anything ((street/curb-wise or other wise there (then) as being "wheel-chair friendly"

especially those hills!

however.... plenty of Acapulco Gold for The Humours and the pain in mind and body.

who's' "the other guy"?

a friend many years ago wrote:

life -
I'm in it
for the poetry

Anonymous said...

eddie w.....

damn few of "us"left
who who "owl-like"

w eyes and everything else
wide opened


the humor-esqe of it all..

I ALL WAYS thought Larry was is continues to be
a very phunny guy well not "funnie ha-ha" but that too.

let us now embrace a new cause/ banner...

The Age of Huh?


not to form another dogmatic clubbie religiously fur-vent

wave of swamp=fever ( our next pan-demonic) rather:

all hail Peter Pan


just Pan.

(if this makes any sense to y'all your as crazy as moi...

or should that be "the 'c' word" ?



my maikosoft web-site folks got it "down" so

you'll have to wait to "discover" my real "me"

eddie watkins said...


Age of Huh? Ha!

A play on Silliman's Age of Huts? hehe

All hail silliness and Pan-fried gigglecakes with an underside of seriousness.

Ed Baker said...

no or noh play on Ronnie's Age of Huts I have yet to read a single
thing of his ever.

"Huh" comes from my standard 1940's 50's reply to questons asked of me..

like my dad frequentl asked:

"what makes you think
you're so smart?"

my brilliant reply which was the equal of his non-meaningful ? to me alsways was


hey... how could you (or anyboddhi else tell that "Anonymous" is / was me? Huh?

teh spelling? the contextualIzationing?

the angry reactionary swagger of the mere rhythms of the ebb and flow of
automobile/bicycle movement?

I used to bike 100-120 miles a week when training this was several years after my heart attack (I got healthy running, biking, swimming) when I was training for triathlon

was coming down Sligo Creek Parkway onece whe a cop-in-his-car sireened and pulled me over...

the speed limit was 25 mph

he said:

"sir: do you re'lize you were doing 2 miles OVER the speed limit?"

I replied "Huh? my little computer says 19!"

ohhhh I forgot the point.... something about the hills and biking in SF?

this is Thursday... tomorrow I can buy some "good" beer..

eddie watkins said...

Curtis might just consider "good beer" an oxymoron, but a good beer's sounding good to me right now.

Try some Dogfish Head, made down near where I grew up in lower Delaware. Excellent brews.

Ed, if you're trying to disguise yourself you've got to change your voice.

I didn't even have to think abt whether anon was you or not.

Ed Baker said...

Dogfish Head ok! I drink it whenever I go down into Dog Town
I like the MAXINMUS strentgh..


it took me 68 years to "find my own voice" now I should c.h.a.n.g.e?

ever get to the D.C. area maybe to do some reading at the Lieberry of Con-gress drop in

bring a six pack

het I tremeber that there was a magazine called sixpack!

wait I got a copy over there in my "rare, anti-qwareian" book section:

YEAH! FAR OUT! I got sixpack number six winter 1973/74 $2.00

in this issue:

TedBerriganWilliamBurroughsBobCobbingClaytonEshlemanAllenFisherAllenGinsbergBruceMcCellandRobertKellyPierreJorisLindyHoughJackHirshmanJohnGiornoJacksonMac LowEricMottramAliceNotleyTom PicardWilliamPrescottJeromeRothenberg

last poem in book/issue is J Rothenberg's poem to Rabbi Snyder (Gary)

this mag came out of London and

"FORTHCOMING: an issue dedicated to work by and about Paul Blackburn."

enough about UHAUL
let's talk about me!

DawgFish Head? am out the door

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Curtis Faville said...

I think a lot of the marginalization that the disabled feel is the result of ignorance, fear of deformity (and ultimately one's own mortality), and anxiety (it could happen to you!).

Language is weird. Perhaps a certain kind of defensiveness settles in to people thus afflicted, so that traditional names and descriptives begin to seem offensive and presumptuous, even when they're not being used in a deliberately disrespectful or unkind way.

Maybe we should have a blog discussion about this--?

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Curtis Faville said...

To correct what I said above:

Instead of "a lot of the marginalization that the disabled feel is the result of ignorance, fear of deformity (and ultimately one's own mortality), and anxiety (it could happen to you!)"

I should have said "a lot of the marginalization that the disabled feel is the result of the ignorance, fear of deformity (and ultimately one's own mortality), and anxiety (it could happen to you!) of others."

Jennifer Bartlett said...


I had no idea about your son. I am super sorry.

I wrote a bitchy post on Ron's blog earlier in the day. I take that back now too.

Yes, people with disabilities have been given a shit ride. As woman with a disability with I have had to fight tooth and nail for everything I have and experience daily prejudice.

Here's my bone to pick with language. We've changed language in regard to race, gender, and religion. Disability is the only area where people still feel it perfectly socially acceptable to use disempowering language. As poets, language is everything. Why not explore it's deeper meaning.

Yes, we can discuss Eigner's poetry, but if we want to do that, let's not mention his disability at all. If we do, we have to explore it in a full way.

Yes, Eigner never 'wrote' about his disability, but his breathe, his vision were completely tied to his poetics. The line is formed by his breath. The images are formed by his intense looking. If you list to him on UPenn, he brings some of this stuff up.

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Ed Baker said...

why put things (words) in quotes?

ever seen any body hanging at the end of a rope? rope around a tree branch hanging from a former person!
I have twice. both dead men.... color was purple!

and bodis both swollen! here around D.C.


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Jennifer Bartlett said...


I'm frustrated. This could be a great blog topic. If you want to read some of the prejudices people with cerebral palsy have had, you should read my blog


Who are you? Are you a poet? Why do you want to argue? Look, I am disabled, I work with people with disabilities, I'm involved in activism, I've written journals. If we want to be called people with disabilities or people who use wheelchairs, what EXACTLY is your problem with that? It's not your experience. You do not know that prejudice. So, why do you want to argue about it?

Are you prejudice or just like to argue.

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Ed Baker said...

over there on another site is something about Levertov

what a crock of shit!