The Center for the Humanities

Lorine Niedecker: Homemade Poems

Editor: John Harkey
73 pages, softcover, saddle-stitch binding

In October of 1964, having no other book prospects on the near horizon, Lorine Neidecker took action and assembled her own—a book of thirty poems written into the pages of a dime-store sketch pad, whose front and back she covered in wrapping paper. She carefully handwrote the small poems in blue-inked cursive, placing each one on its own unnumbered sheet of paper. She then sent the book, with the wry title Homemade Poems inscribed on the cover, to her friend, the poet and editor Cid Corman, who was living in Japan at the time. This Lost & Found chapbook presents a simple facsimile edition of Homemade Poems that is congruent to the original book in all fundamental ways. Thus readers now have a chance to read Niedecker’s handwriting and move through and around the book according to the same chief physical features, spaces, and tempos she originally built into it. The chapbook also includes an afterword, “Usable Dimensions,” which is included as a pamphlet insert.

Author Biography:

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.

Selected Archives:

  • The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library, New York, NY

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