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Larry Eigner poems and papers

Call Number: MS 39


American poet Larry Eigner, 1927-1996, wrote his poetry in an open form, sometimes referred to as "spatial poetry". This collection is primarily composed of a large number of his poems as well as rough drafts. Also included are some of Eigner's prose writings and his correspondence with poets, publishers and librarians, which give insight into his life and art.


  • Creation: 1950 - 1993


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Larry Eigner, 1927-1996

American poet Larry (Laurence Joel) Eigner (1927-1996) lived in Swampscott, Massachusetts for the first 50 years of his life and, in 1978, after the death of his father, Israel Eigner, moved to Berkeley, California, where he spent the rest of his life. Largely home-schooled, Eigner also took correspondence courses offered by the University of Chicago.

In 1949 he became interested in poetry when listening to Cid Corman reading Yeats on a radio show. Their ensuing correspondence served as an introduction to Eigner's life work. Eigner's first book, From the Sustaining Air, was published in 1953, and he went on to author more than 40 books and thousands of poems, which also appeared in numerous small press periodicals. Having been influenced by the Beat Poets, Eigner used an open form of poetry, a technique ascribed to the Black Mountain Poets, a group of writers publishing in The Black Mountain Review, an experimental magazine printed by Black Mountain College in North Carolina.

He was admired by his fellow poets and kept up a correspondence with many of them. Eigner also gave readings of his work and participated in the making of a documentary, Getting It Together, about himself with readings of his poems by Allen Ginsberg.


7.75 Linear Feet (17 document cases)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The Larry Eigner poems and papers span the period from the early 1950s to the early 1990s and are arranged in three series: Poems and rough drafts, Prose and other writings, and Correspondence.

All the poems and other items are listed in a seachable PDF file. The file is divided into sections that have been designated by letters of the alphabet. The sections are described below in the series list. When available, this is the information included in the file: call number, Eigner poem number, date composed, title, first line, literary form, number of leaves, and notes. There is a link to the PDF file (1146 KB) provided elsewhere in this finding aid.

Series List

The Larry Eigner Poems and Papers date from the early 1950s to 1993 and are arranged in three series and 9 subseries.

<unittitle>Series 1, Poems, including rough drafts, <unitdate>1950?-1993</unitdate> </unittitle>
Subseries 1: Poems arranged by Eigner numbers (Database sections A-E); Subseries 2: Poems without Eigner numbers, either dated or undated (Database sections F-G); Subseries 3: Rough drafts chronologically by date received in Spencer Library (Database section H).
<unittitle>Series 2, Prose and other writings, <unitdate>1956?-1992</unitdate> </unittitle>
Subseries 1: Prose, either dated or undated (Database sections I, J); Subseries 2: Fragments of works submitted for publication (Database section L); Subseries 3: Printed ephemera and miscellaneous (Database sections M, P).
<unittitle>Series 3, Correspondence, <unitdate>1956-1992</unitdate> </unittitle>
Subseries 1: Letters written by Eigner (Database section K), Subseries 2: Letters written to Eigner (Database section N) and Subseries 3 (Database section O): Letters by Eigner written to librarians at the Spencer Library of the University of Kansas.

Physical Location

MS 39

Other Finding Aids

For a listing of each item in the collection, see the database listing of the Eigner poems and papers at

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, Larry Eigner, 1989

Related Materials

Film, transcripts and letters relating to getting it together, a film on larry eigner poet, MS 122, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Larry Eigner correspondence with The Paris Review, MS 55 Ea and MS 55 B3, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Robert Grenier's transcripts of Eigner's poems, MS 257, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.


Faville, Curtis and Robert Grenier. Collected poems by Larry Eigner. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009.

Leif, Irving P. Larry Eigner: A Bibliography of His Works. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1989.
Guide to the Larry Eigner Collection
Larry Eigner poems and papers
Finding aid prepared by mrm and mab, 2009. Finding aid encoded by mrm and mab, 2009. Finding aid revised by mab and mwh, 2016; mwh, 2020.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Larry Eigner poems and papers, Department of Special Collections, MS 39, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States