Born in Waltham, Massachusetts in 1967, but becoming a person mainly in Amherst, Massachusetts, Eric Elshtain discovered the power of the written word during a penmanship exercise in the fourth grade. He had chosen to copy in cursive Shakespeare’s sonnet number fourteen (“Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck…”) and fell under the spell of rhythm, rhyme, hundred-dollar words, and inverted syntax. Equally influential were the Silver Age Marvel comic books the author read with a flashlight under his blankets at night and his mother’s Politics in Film classes at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
He was educated at Oberlin, Columbia University, and the University of Chicago, where he wrote a dissertation on the use of poetry as a scientific tool for speculation in science in the work of Erasmus Darwin, Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin, Goethe, Coleridge, and other eighteenth- and nineteenth-century scientists and writers.
Elshtain has lived variously in Texas, New York City, Colorado and in different forms of spiritual and religious vagueness, and is finally settled in Oak Park, Illinois with his wife and daughter as a practicing Catholic.
Through the non-profit Snow City Arts, he conducts poetry and art workshops at John H. Stroger, Jr. and UIC Children’s Hospitals with patients ranging in age from six to twenty-one. He also teaches literature at the Better Boys Foundation in Chicago. The author of several chapbooks, including The Cheaper the Crook, the Gaudier the Patter (Transparent Tiger Press, 2004) and Here in Premonition (RubbaDucky, 2006), Elshtain is also the editor of Jon Trowbridge’s on-line Beard of Bees Press.