We lost Lorine Faith Niedecker just shy of 40 years ago today
(May 12, 1903-Dec 31, 1970).
She was struck by a cerebral hemorrhage. Her last words may have been, "Al I don't know what's the matter." Two weeks earlier she had written her close friend, publisher, and literary executor Cid Corman, "I think lines of poetry that I might use-all day long and even in the night."
Everyone knows, but maybe not you, that Lorine was born on Black Hawk Island in Wisconsin and spent a great deal of her life there; and if you don't know about any of this, be-welcome into the life of an extremely gifted American poet, daughter, wife, and good neighbor.
Lorine Niedecker's first book of poems was titled New Goose, published right after WW2. And the last sighting we have of Lorine was sometime in the early 70s when her second husband, Al Millen (married 1963) after her death, was burning her papers because she asked him to.
Fortunately a good deal had already been collected and saved by all sorts of guardian angels over the years like Cid Corman, Jonathan Williams, Ian Hamilton Finlay and a wondrous Gail Roub. Roub preserved and donated a good many LN treasures to the Hoard Historical Museum in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin and this is where I've drawn these three paintings of Lorine's, through the kind hands of both Kori Oberle, Director of the Hoard Museum and Ann Engelman, President of the Friends of Lorine Niedecker,
who simply continue the love affair (it is!) for Lorine.
Lorine Niedecker is a rootin-tootin' stand by herself independent wonder from the American soil. In her twenties she changed the spelling of her name from the family original "Neidecker", to Niedecker, and she's been changing things ever since.
Anything with the name Niedecker attached is a pleasure to read.
New wayfarers just coming in may wish to start here:
Lorine Niedecker: Collected Works, ed Jenny Penberthy. (U Cal). not quite a "collected" - it misses, just for starters, the little book we published at Longhouse of one of Lorine's private notebooks, A Cooking Book. But nobody's perfect. This collection remains a gemstone.
A crystallized Niedecker selected poems by Cid Corman (ed.): The Granite Pail (Gnomon).
A Cooking Book (Longhouse), basically 'conversations' (poems/recipes) with husband Al from Lorine poem-to-poem about what she is cookin' up in the house and home. It also shows a fine example of the small and intimate notebook style books Lorine handcrafted herself and gave away to friends.
Between Your House and Mine, the letters of Lorine Niedecker to Cid Corman 1960-1970 (Duke).
Origin, Fourth Series No. 16, featuring Lorine Niedecker (Origin 1981).
The reprint of New Goose (Rumor Books ), sparkling in the hand.
Elizabeth Willis (ed.) Radical Vernacular: Lorine Niedecker and the Politics of Place
Gloria Frym: Lorine Niedecker's Plain (Language), Jacket 38
The biography in-the-works by Margot Peters!
Cathy Cook's film: Immortal Cupboard, In Search of Lorine Niedecker
Origin, sixth series (complete) ed. Bob Arnold on CD, 1700 pages
including work by Niedecker, Corman, Penberthy, Frym & many more
The Friends of Lorine Niedecker / The Solitary Plover
SEE Lorine Niedecker Titles at Longhouse
The three paintings by Lorine Niedecker shown here are almost all new to the world ~
(please click onto each to make larger)
Perhaps the paintings were all done in 1965 or thereabouts. It's pleasing to think of LN painting in her early 60s.
Don't you just want to get into that little red boat?