The Biography of Larry Eigner

My name is Jennifer Bartlett, and I am a poet with cerebral palsy. For the past seven years, I have been working on a biography of the poet Larry Eigner. I entered the project without any grant money or institutional backing. A few years ago, I had a successful Kickstarter for the project. Now, the project is nearing completion, and I need help pushing through. 

Eigner was one of them major poets of the 20th century, and yet, his work has been vastly overlooked. Eigner had severe cerebral palsy as a result of an accident at birth. After receiving a typewriter as a Bar Mitzvah gift, he went onto become a "man of  letters." Eigner's impairments were such that he lived with his parents for the first 51 years of his life. When his mother could no longer care for him, he moved to Berkeley, California, at the height of the Independent Living Movement. There, he lived for many of his later years with the poets Robert Grenier and Kathleen Frumkin. 

What makes Eigner's work so crucial, other than the beauty of his poetry, is how many worlds he inhabited. His work and life are relevant to disability studies and activism, Black Mountain Poetry, so-called Language Poetics and eco-poetics. Influenced by Rachel Carson's Silent Spring,Eigner became a great environmentalist. Robert Creeley published his first chapbook. His first major publication was printed at Black Mountain College; a documentary on Eigner was narrated by Allen Ginsberg. Revered in France and England, Eigner influenced and corresponded with thousands of poets and thinkers. Further, his story is crucial because it is so rare that the story of someone with a severe disability is told. you can read more about Eigner here .

My own biography is here: Jennifer Bartlett is the author of three books of poetry and co-editor of the anthology Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability. She has had individual works published in Poetry, The New York Times, Brooklyn Rail and many other journals. 

Bartlett was been a teacher for sixteen years. She began her teaching career as a NYC DOE teaching fellow and taught middle school and high school English for six years. She has subsequently taught poetry, literature and composition at Montclair State University, CUNY, St. Mark's Poetry Project, Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, and the MS Society.  

Bartlett is a tireless activist. She helped form the AWP Deaf/Disabled Writers Caucus. She is currently a member of the Direct Action Group where she advocates for ADA accessibility on the NYC subways. She also is helping develop Zoeglossia - a non-profit to promote the work of poets with disabilities.

I have written a detailed budget for completion of the project - which includes funding my editor, a fact-checker, someone to help make notes and an index, library fees, and so on. I am happy to share it with anyone who asks. 

Everyone who donates will get a thank you in the book. For those who donate over $100, I will send you a copy of my new poetry book. Over $300, you will receive a copy of the biography.

The projected completion date is August 2018. 

Thank you: Jennifer
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Donations

  • Knar Gavin 
    • $20 
    • 26 mos
  • Nicholas Birns 
    • $5 
    • 27 mos
  • Joe & Janet Eigner 
    • $100 
    • 27 mos
  • Steve Tills 
    • $30 
    • 27 mos
  • Linda Russo 
    • $30 
    • 27 mos
See all

Organizer

Jennifer Marie Bartlett 
Organizer
Brooklyn, NY
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