Lorine Niedecker: Homemade Poems
ed. John Harkey
“In October of 1964, Lorine Niedecker assembled a book of thirty poems inscribed into the pages of a dime-store sketch pad, whose front and back she had covered in wrapping paper. She carefully handwrote the pieces in blue-inked cursive, placing each one on its own unnumbered sheet of paper. By turns, the small poems in this self-publication move through a sprawling array of modes. Niedecker makes room here for—to name only the several categories that spring to mind—deft, vivid details drawn from daily life; excerpts of intimate colloquial speech; sober evocations of global violence; abstracted sound mosaics; spare ‘portraits’ of historical figures; and found poems pulled from friends’ letters.” – from John Harkey's Usable Dimensions: An Afterword
Watch a video of Bob Arnold perusing this extraordinary blue-ink facsimile!
John Harkey grew up in Georgia and Tennessee. He recently received his Ph.D. in English from the CUNY Graduate Center after completing a dissertation on "small poetry" in twentieth-century writing, a study devoted principally to Lorine Niedecker, George Oppen, Susan Howe, and the philosophy of Charles S. Peirce. John operates Creature Press, a vehicle for hand-made chapbooks, and some of his writing can be found in Cold Front Magazine, The Marsh Hawk Review, EOAGH, and 2nd Ave Poetry. He is currently stationed at The Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia, where he teaches composition, rhetoric, and literature as a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow.
Lorine Niedecker was born in 1903 in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, and she chose to spend most of her life in nearby Black Hawk Island, a narrow, marshy, austere peninsula along the Rock River. Through the 1930s, ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, Niedecker explored conjunctions between plain, often vernacular language and experimental techniques such as disjunction, wordplay, and radical condensation. Her poetry has been particularly celebrated for its rigorous but subtle attention to the sounds and semantic densities of words and for its deft, unsentimental weaving together of the personal and the political, the daily and the epochal, flora and fauna, feeling and fact.