Background and Education
Eric Darton was born in New York in 1950 and grew up in Greenwich Village, the East Village and Chelsea. From 1964 to 1968, he attended Seward Park High School on the Lower East Side. Darton received a BA with honors from Empire State College in 1990 and an MA in Media Studies from Hunter College in 1994.
Darton’s cultural history, Divided We Stand: A Biography of New York’s World Trade Center (Basic Books, 2000) became a New York Times bestseller. In the wake of September 11, he made scores of public and media appearances and was featured in The History Channel's documentary World Trade Center, 1973-2001 (2001).
In 2011, Basic Books reissued the original text of Divided We Stand, augmented by a new introduction and afterword. In August, Darton was a featured speaker in a series of lectures focused on the tenth anniversary of 9/11/01 organized by the Mid-Manhattan library.
Darton’s critically acclaimed first novel Free City (W.W. Norton, 1996) was subsequently published in German and Spanish translations.
In recent years, Darton has independently published a five-volume cultural memoir Notes of a New York Son, 1995-2007 as well as a novel, Orogene, and Beaky Chronicles, an illustrated collection of twelve animal fables.
His short fiction has been anthologized in 110 Stories: New York Writes After September 11, Ulrich Baer, ed. (NYU Press, 2002) and Sponde, Giovanni Maccari, ed. (Avagliano Editore, 2001), and has appeared in New England Review, Conjunctions, American Letters & Commentary, Chimurenga, Istanbul Literary Review, Qarrtsiluni and numerous other journals.
Darton’s nonfiction work has appeared in print and on-line publications including Polis, The Indypendent, Metropolis, Hunger Mountain, Culturefront, OpenDemocracy.net, Designer/Builder and Leonardo. A collection of his short essays on the politics and culture of the 1930s was published in the companion volume to Tim Robbins’s film Cradle Will Rock. Darton has also contributed essays to the anthologies After the World Trade Center: Rethinking New York City, Michael Sorkin and Sharon Zukin, eds., (Routledge, 2002) and The Suburbanization of New York, Jerilou Hammett and Kingsley Hammett, eds., (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007).
Darton is a senior editor of Tupelo Quarterly. From 2000 to 2006 he served as fiction editor of American Letters & Commentary. As a senior editor for the on-line journal Frigate, he contributed “Heartbeats on the Left: Radical Strategies for the Novel,” a series of critical appreciations of writings by Tillie Olsen, John Sanford and Elio Vittorini. Between 1991 to 1994 he was an associate editor of Conjunctions.
He has received fiction writing fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts (1991) and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference (1998).
Darton currently teaches at Long Island University’s Global College, and the Harry Van Arsdale Center for Labor Studies at Empire State College, both in New York City. He also serves as thesis-writing advisor to MA students in the Historical and Sustainable Architecture Studies program of the Department of Art History, New York University.
From 2001 to 2003, Darton taught fiction and screenwriting in the Goddard College MFA program in Creative Writing.
Between 1991 and 1997 Darton originated and taught courses in media studies at Hunter College, and at Fordham University from 1997 to 1999. He also taught fiction writing at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies from 1996 to 1998. From 1998 to 2006, Darton led Writing at the Crossroads, an inter-genre writing workshop that served as a laboratory for several published books and numerous shorter writings.
In 1985, Darton founded Yomoma Arts, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that produced and presented Music For Hot Sundays! (¡Musica para domingos calientes!) – a series of multi-genre cultural festivals in NYC public parks. Yomoma Arts also produced two literary series: LitSal and Reading the Bronx as well as LitDisc, a kiosk featuring videos of poetry, fiction and storytelling performances in English, Spanish and Chinese that toured the city’s parks and public places.
In the early ‘80s, as editor of the Art and Performance pages of the cultural monthly East Village Eye, Darton chronicled the community’s emergence on the world arts scene. During that period and into the ‘90s, he wrote and acted in several text-based performance works including The Trouble With Harry (Helmsley), a street theater satire on gentrification, and Medium Fool: A Play for 3 Actors, 2 Shills & an Audacious Audience, presented at La Mama.
Darton’s public lectures and talks include: “Arcadian Rhythms in the Concrete Jungle: Utopian New York From the Automat to Adam Purple and Beyond” (for the 2001 New York Public Library-Bibliothèque Nationale program Utopia: the Search for the Ideal Society in the Western World), “Last Exit to Utopia: Notes on the Byrdcliff Moment and The Road to Now,” (commissioned in 2003 for the 100th anniversary celebration of the first Catskills arts colony), and “Brave New York: Between Utopia & Free City,” a tertulia presented at Instituto Cervantes, NYC (2007).