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Lorine Niedecker Biography

(1903–70), Poetry, New Goose, My Friend Tree, North Central, Tenderness and Gristle, Blue Chicory

American poet, born at Fort Atkinson, near Madison, Wisconsin, the region in which she spent most of her life; educated at Beloit College. She worked for Madison University's WHA radio station and as a librarian until deteriorating eyesight led her to seek other employment, chiefly as a domestic assistant in a Madison hospital. She dated her development as a poet from the beginning of her contact with her ‘friend and mentor’ Louis Zukofsky, with whom she initiated a long correspondence after reading the ‘Objectivists’ (see Objectivism) issue of Poetry which he edited in 1931. New Goose (1946), her first collection of verse, was followed by My Friend Tree (1962), North Central (1968), and Tenderness and Gristle (1970), a collected edition. Much of her flexibly structured poetry combines remarkable concentration and fluency; successions of short poems rich in assonance, alliteration, and unobtrusive rhyme form an affirmative and precisely detailed evocation of her remote natural surroundings. ‘Lake Superior’ and ‘Wintergreen Ridge’ are longer sequences drawing on the botanical and geological elements of her landscapes for imagery typifying the ‘undistractable clarity’ Ed Dorn identified in her work. Cid Corman edited Blue Chicory (1976) and The Granite Pail (1985); ‘Between You and Me’ (edited by L. P. Faranda, 1986) collects letters she exchanged with Corman. Her other collections of verse include Harpsichord & Saltfish (edited by J. Penberthy, 1991). Peter Dent's edition of The Full Note (1983) contains poems and letters by Niedecker and a range of tributes from her associates and admirers. From This Condensery (edited by R. Bertholf, 1985) is a full edition of her work.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: New from Tartary to Frank O'connor