As anybody who knows me knows: I am a cheerleader for the Midwest. While I believe that regional and civic pride can dangerously turn into nationalist tendencies, I am guilty of contradicting myself and give the MW a big whoop-whoop when necessary. For that reason, I am often keeping my eyes open for Midwestern-born and based poets. Today’s poet, Lorine Niedecker, was born and raised and lived and died in Wisconsin. My friend Nissa Lee is a big fan of Lorine Niedecker, though I am not sure geography has anything to do with it. I think for Nissa, Niedecker’s Objectivist tendencies influence her work. If you know Nissa’s work, I think you can see it, though I am not trying to reduced it down to such simplistic terms.
Niedecker wrote, in a letter to a friend: “Objects. Objects. Why are people, artists above all, so terrifically afraid of themselves?” What an important question. I have know so many poets who would rather be disemboweled by Leda’s swan for all of eternity than to ever admit that they have a personal biography. I am not going to go on a rant about that. It’s their choice. But it’s something I notice and something that I think informs Niedecker’s work. For her Objectivist leanings (and her personal relationships with Objectivist heavy-hitters, including Louis Zukofsky, who fathered a baby she aborted — at his behest), Niedecker maintains a pretty demotic idiom, which is what I love. Speaking of being reductive, I tend to think that many Midwestern poets do this, and that I endeavor to be a part of that tradition (Wright, Masters, Knight, Sandburg, Van Duyn, to name a few).
Building on the previous two posts, I would like to share “Poet’s Work”:
Learn a trade
to sit at desk