Well, I'll start with where born which is no doubt where I'll end - a section of low land on the Rock River where it empties into Lake Koshkonong, all near Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. Nature is lush here, I feel as tho I spent my childhood outdoors - redwinged blackbirds, willows, maples, boats, fishing (the smell of tarred nets), tittering and squawking noises from the marsh, a happy outdoor grandfather who somehow somewhere had got hold of nursery and folk rhymes to entrance me - all near Beloit College which I attended and in the other direction Madison where I worked for a time in the university's radio station. Other jobs: library assistant and when eyes went a bit bad hospital floor washer, dining room helper etc . . . Retired now at 63.
As with Lorine Niedecker's poetry, much has been left out, but these few words written to the critic Kenneth Cox in 1966 provide us with the biographical gist. 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. Jenny Penberthy, a professor at Capilano College in Vancouver and the editor of Lorine Niedecker: Woman and Poet (1996) and Niedecker and the Correspondence with Zukofsky, 1931-70 (1993), devoted nearly ten years to this project, sorting through the formidable confusion of drafts, sequences and chronology that rendered a previous attempt at a complete poems (From This Condensery, Jargon, 1985) so unreliable and bewildering as to be next to useless. Niedecker spent nearly all of her life on Black Hawk Island, three miles from Fort Atkinson, a town in the rich dairy country of south-central Wisconsin with a population of around eight thousand. The state capital, Madison, is 34 miles north-west and Milwaukee about 60 miles away, east-northeast. Jonathan Williams, of Jargon Press, visited Niedecker in 1962, a year before her second marriage to Albert Millen and subsequent move to Milwaukee:
LRB 5 June 2003 | PDF Download