An innovative study of how a prescient poet imagined ecology and embodiment
Larry Eigner (1927–1996) wrote thousands of poems in his lifetime, despite profound physical limitations caused by cerebral palsy. Using only the thumb and index finger of his right hand, Eigner generated a torrent of urgent and rich language, participating in vital correspondences as well as publishing widely in literary magazines and poetry journals.
While Eigner wrote before the emergence of ecopoetics, his poetry reflected a serious engagement with scientific writing and media, including Rachel Carson’s seminal Silent Spring. Eigner was writing about environmental disasters and climate change long before such concerns took on a moral incumbency. Similarly, Eigner was ahead of his time in his exploration of disability. The field of disability studies has expanded rapidly in the new millennium. Eigner was not an overtly biographical poet, at least as far as his physical limitations were concerned, but his poetry spoke volumes on the idea of embodiment in all its forms.
Finding the Weight of Things: Larry Eigner’s Ecrippoetics is the first full-length study of Eigner’s poetry, covering his entire career from the beginning of his mature work in the 1950s to his last poems of the 1990s. George Hart charts where Eigner’s two central interests intersect, and how their interaction fueled his work as a poet-critic—one whose work has much to tell us about the ecology and embodiment of our futures. Hart sees Eigner’s overlapping concerns for disability, ecology, and poetic form as inextricable, and coins the phrase ecrippoetics here to describe Eigner’s prescient vision.