"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 It includes many poems previously unpublished in book form plus all of Niedecker's surviving 1930s surrealist work and her 1936-46 folk poetry, bringing to light the formative experimental phases of her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.
About the Author
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).
"This Collected Works should succeed, at long last, in establishing Niedecker as one of the most important and original poets of this past century and in bringing her work into the mainstream, where it belongs." — London Review of Books
"[Penberthy's] extraordinary efforts to bring to light Niedecker's importance are utterly invaluable." — Boston Review
"Numerous contemporary avant-garde poets cite the influence of the Objectivists, and yet they remain under-studied and under-appreciated. This collection should help to rectify the oversight by making one of the movement's key players more accessible." — Rain Taxi Review Of Books
"[A] marvelous edition" — The Guardian
“Having all of Niedecker in one place, as it has never been collected before, is a great moment.” — Philadelphia Inquirer
"...this comprehensive collection of all of Niedecker's surviving verse includes her well-known New Goose folk poems, as well as early poetry that Niedecker had omitted from the collected works published in her lifetime. It is an indispensable book for anyone interested in modernist writing." — Publishers Weekly
"Rarely does a single volume of poetry radically change the prevailing view of its author. Lorine Niedecker: Collected Works, superbly edited by Jenny Penberthy, is such a book. It is, at last, the long-awaited necessity: an accurate, reliable, full text of this important modernist writer’s oeuvre. Its value is not to be underestimated." — Jacket2
“Niedecker’s poems, too long neglected, are sensual, witty, and true.” — East Bay Express
"Jenny Penberthy's lucid, intelligent arrangement of Niedecker's work . . . and her consistent care in establishing the texts of poems make it possible to see clearly for the first time the development of Niedecker's poetry. . . .Jenny Penberthy has done poetry a great service." — World Literature Today
"This is an excellent, and for this reader, an essential publication." — Oyster Boy Review