"The Brontës had their moors, I have my marshes," Lorine Niedecker wrote of flood-prone Black Hawk Island in Wisconsin, where she lived most of her life. Her life by water, as she called it, could not have been further removed from the avant-garde poetry scene where she also made a home. Niedecker is one of the most important poets of her generation and an essential member of the Objectivist circle. Her work attracted high praise from her peers--Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, Louis Zukofsky, Cid Corman, Clayton Eshleman--with whom she exchanged life-sustaining letters. Niedecker was also a major woman poet who interrogated issues of gender, domesticity, work, marriage, and sexual politics long before the modern feminist movement. Her marginal status, both geographically and as a woman, translates into a major poetry.
Niedecker's lyric voice is one of the most subtle and sensuous of the twentieth century. Her ear is constantly alive to sounds of nature, oddities of vernacular speech, textures of vowels and consonants. Often compared to Emily Dickinson, Niedecker writes a poetry of wit and emotion, cosmopolitan experimentation and down-home American speech.
This much-anticipated volume presents all of Niedecker's surviving poetry, plays, and creative prose in the sequence of their composition. It includes many poems previously unpublished in book form plus all of Niedecker's surviving 1930s surrealist work and her 1936-46 folk poetry, bringing to light the formative experimental phases of her early career. With an introduction that offers an account of the poet's life and notes that provide detailed textual information, this book will be the definitive reader's and scholar's edition of Niedecker's work.
"NEW GOOSE" Manuscript
FOR PAUL AND OTHER POEMS
HARPSICHORD & SALT FISH
PROSE AND RADIO PLAYS
NOTES AND CONTENTS LISTS
INDEX OF TITLES OR FIRST LINES
Lorine Niedecker was born in 1903 and died in 1970. Among her published work is New Goose (1946), My Friend Tree (1961), North Central (1968), T&G: Collected Poems, 1936-1966 (1969), My Life by Water: Collected Poems, 1936-1968 (1970), Blue Chicory (1976), From This Condensery (1985), and The Granite Pail (1985). Jenny Penberthy is Professor of English at Capilano College, Vancouver. She is editor of Lorine Niedecker: Woman and Poet (1996) and of Niedecker and the Correspondence with Zukofsky, 1931-1970 (1993).
"Lorine Niedecker proves a major poet of the 20th century, just as Emily Dickinson was for the 19th. Bleak indeed that both should have been so curiously overwritten and ignored, when their work defined the time in which they lived with such genius. Jenny Penberthy has provided an excellent text and a comprehensive, detailing introduction. Finally, we have the collected poems of that poet whom her peers thought the very best of their company. Now one can know why."—Robert Creeley, The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1945-1975
"Lorine Niedecker was neither a Sappho nor an Emily Dickinson. She was a mid-western-born, self-created modernist who worked as a librarian, a floor-scrubber, a WPA writer, a housewife; and whose acrid, vitally alive poems earned her the admiration and friendship of her poetic peers."—Adrienne Rich, author of Diving into the Wreck
"Like the other poets associated with the Objectivist movement, Lorine Niedecker's work is quiet, original, and exact. She's as much of her place, that watery world of the Wisconsin lake country, as any American writer and as quirky as the best of them."—Robert Hass, former Poet Laureate of the United States
"If she lacks the epigrammatist's cutting assurance, Niedecker's semblance of unpreparedness may make for a greater precision of statement: Kenneth Cox says it all when he describes her setting one thing alongside another with 'the tremulous certainty of a compass needle.'"—Thom Gunn, author of Boss Cupid