From Publishers Weekly
A great modernist finally gets a full tribute with the publication of Lorine Niedecker: Collected Works. A lifetime resident of Wisconsin, Niedecker (1903-1970) was a sort of satellite member of Zukofsky's Objectivist circle, though currents of surrealism, folk poetry and haiku run through her work. Edited by Capilano College English professor Jenny Penberthy (Lorine Niedecker: Woman and Poet), 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: "What a scandal Christmas What a scandle Christmas is, a red stick-up to a lily."
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Niedecker (1903-70) is often likened to Emily Dickinson. She, too, remained in the backwater where she was born. Large-scale interest in her work came only years after her death. Her characteristic poems are, like Dickinson's, short or in short stanzas, short-lined, and elliptical. But she wasn't reclusive; she connected with the Objectivists, New York poets "led" by Louis Zukofsky, with whom she had a brief affair and a long correspondence. Very poor, she was a proofreader until her weak vision worsened, and she last labored as a hospital cleaning woman. Whereas Dickinson's poetry is metaphysical, Niedecker's mature work is profoundly physical, sparked by wry, class-conscious humor and usually rooted in her Black Lake Island, Wisconsin, neighborhood. A good introduction to her tenor and concerns is provided by two prose pieces, "Switchboard Girl" and "The Evening's Automobiles," as sharp, energetic, and funny as William Burroughs' best "routines," though utterly lacking Burroughs' obscenity and dadaism. After them, turn to the riverine music and midwestern shrewdness of the poems, comprehensively collected here for the first time. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved