Bashō's Road

to the small poem and the quiet voice within

lorine niedecker | a poet’s life

Lorine Niedecker

Editor’s Note: For anyone who doesn’t know it yet, or is not quite sure, she’s Wisconsin’s great claim to modern poetry. Less is more. Spare was her language…her words, her lines, her poems. A poet who lived close to the bone in a small cabin on an Island–Blackhawk Island on Lake Koshkonong, Ft. Atkinson, WI territory. Water was her metaphor, her music. She had much to say, always in a small way. She could tell you how a real poet lives, in a short breath:

Now in one year
…….a book published
………………and plumbing—
took a lifetime
……….to weep
………………a deep
……………………..trickle

[from the GRANITE PAIL, North Point Press, 1985]

For anyone who doesn’t know the poet yet, get your hands on Margot Peters’ beautiful biography, Lorine Niedecker, A Poet’s Life (UW-Press, 2011) which will put you comfortably in Niedecker’s hands…her life, her sense of self…where and how she found words so spare to hold a life, a poem in place—and keep it fast.Norbert Blei

WILDERNESS

You are the man
You are my country
and I find it hard going

You are the prickly pear
You are the sudden violent storm

the torrent to raise the river
to float the wounded doe

[from HARPSICHORD & SALT FISH, 1991]

CONSIDER

the alliance–
ships and plants

The take-for-granted bloom
of our roadsides
……….Queen Anne’s Lace
……….Black Eyed Susans
………………………rode the sea

‘Specimens graciously passed
between warring fleets’

And when an old boat rots ashore
itself once living plant
…………………….it sprouts

[from HARPSICHORD & SALT FISH, 1991]

FORECLOSURE

Tell em to take my bare walls down
my cement abutments
their parties thereof
and clause of claws

Leave me the land
Scratch out: the land

May prose and poetry both die out
and leave me peace

[from HARPSICHORD & SALT FISH, 1991]

Painting by Kami Polzin | click the image to visit her web page…

8 Comments

  1. Don’t know her. Love the poetry. Will check her out.

  2. I do love her. Thanks Norb for reminding me (again) of the beauty of spareness.

  3. yes…like her poetry very much

  4. Spare beauty, desribes her personality, and her poetry. An elegant beauty in challenging times. Mistress of the Wisconsin tradition. Phil Hansotia.

  5. She’s certainly knows how to toss the needless clutter
    with her art of few words, refreshing each sentence with a breath of open space.

  6. I just finished the biography last week-Margot Peters is a very good writer. A lot of insight into Lorine’s relationship with Louis Zukofsky…the notes are forty-five pages.

  7. “What would they say if they knew
    I sit for two months on six lines
    of poetry?” ~ LN

    Great posting. Thank you.

  8. Michael Nickels-Wisdom

    January 16, 2012 at 3:48 am

    Ah, Lorine. Hidden midwestern haiku poet.

Leave a Reply

© 2016 Bashō's Road

Theme by Anders Noren adapted for M.etropolis by RavanHUp ↑