Sunday, 3 May 2015

Larry Eigner

Charles Bukowski once called Larry Eigner the "greatest living poet" – and definitely Bukowski was not alone with his admiration. His unique poetry has had a strong influence particularly on the Language poets and he is praised by fellow poets like Charles Bernstein, Ron Silliman and Robert Grenier up to this very day.

Larry Eigner suffered from cerebral palsy and was confined to a wheelchair since early childhood. It is this fact, which as Samuel Charters put it in the biographical notes to his collection The World and its Streets, Place, “has given a form and shape to his poetry” as he was forced to observe much of the world merely through the windows of his house. His disability also meant that the physical act of writing took tremendous effort from Eigner. The combination of these two facts might explain the meditative, elegant density of his poems which combine an appreciation for the small things with a particular attention to the use of the page space. His work is therefore often seen an outstanding realisation of Charles Olson’s idea of “Projective Verse”. As Robert Grenier writes in his introduction to the Collected Poems of Larry Eigner:

“Following out from experiments in the work of Cummings, Pound and Williams, […], Larry Eigner’s mature writing is perhaps the best (and most varied) fulfilment we have, to date, of tendencies and possibilities regarding the use of space in poetry gathered into and ‘projected’ out into the future of American poetry by Olson’s theory of composition by field.”
Larry Eigner died from pneumonia and other complications in 1996.


My own response below uses the looking-glass of the internet as a source. If the view outside the window was the primary source of inspiration for Eigner, I felt a 21st century response would reflect the fact that our view upon the world is now largely shaped by the information we gather through digital media. For many people living today the glance on the computer screen is now more habitual and a more important source of information than the view out of their window. I therefore decided to draw the following picture of my city mainly from the material found on news websites.

~ - ~

how it comes about sometimes:


next door to the Braehead shopping centre

   alterations to the existing

                     as the former Clydebuilt Scottish Maritime Museum

which shut down five years ago

[ as shortage in funding ]

                                    has been earmarked as the     potential

     where the food


and high

                -rises of Drumchapel

  just two miles from the sandstone villas

                                                                        [ school catchment concerns ]

   a former bridal shop      is in the neighbourhood children

                make their way from school

                house to Easterhouse

cheap [ nutritious ]           soup in the cafe at the Baptist Church

a syringe in the gutter

                                 [ modern life on the broo ]

  with a pain[ t ] ed expression outside

a dilapidated

            block of flats in an incongruous city

suit and dress shoes

  wasteland left



                                                   like a monument

                                                  “There is a matching block behind



              washing flapping on balconies

              the wind


 mattresses and

                       junk still

       the grass



in George Street


in the garden of her council house in Possilpark

              listened patiently the Victorian gravestones in the Necropolis that looms above Glasgow

by rich

merchants in the heyday

                                              [  the incident in Hutton Drive ]

riverside land has derelict for nearly 40 years   properties

                                                                         a mix of social



     equity and family

[ homes ?

                  Dalmarnock Power Station chimney


rise flats in Sighthill Balornock [Red Road Flats] Gallowgate Dalmarnock the Oatlands 55 & 75 Plean St

                   a skyline for decades


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