Friday, October 4, 2013

Lorine Niedecker: from Blue Chicory - Small Press Friday

In his preface to Blue Chicory, a collection of the work of Lorine Niedecker, edited by Cid Corman, he noted:

The poems in the first part of this collection, heretofore unseen in book form, are those that seem largely to have been "abandoned"  by the poet as perhaps not up to her best work, since they were available for the Fulcrum edition of The Collected Poems. Nevertheless, they seem to me to warrant safer keeping here - even when they are variants on other pieces.

Here are four very brief poems from the first part of Blue Chicory - it is hard to deny Cid's assertion that they "warrant safer keeping."

                  Frog noise
                  suddenly stops
They turned off
    their lights 


In the transcendence 
of convalescence
the translation
of Bashō

These two poems follow one upon the other in Blue Chicory and it would be a stretch to imagine that they are unrelated, either for the poet or the editor that has placed them thus. The first, though not a variant of Bashō's famed frog ku, does bring it to mind, centering as it does on sound, and being placed as it is before "In the transcendence," which does reference the earlier master poet.

This second poem at first recalls, for those familiar with the classic Japanese haiku masters, Shiki rather than Bashō, but upon close inspection such speculation is most probably beside the point. 

The moment captured here is simply as stated. All who have experienced prolonged convalescence or illness know what the transcendence is of which she speaks. To encounter a particular translation of Bashō during (or perhaps sparked by) such a volatile state might make for an astounding moment, indeed.

The radio talk this morning
was of obliterating
the world

I notice fruit flies rise 
from the rind
of the recommended 

Here is a poem truly in the spirit of haiku, even if worked out more to tanka length, and beyond. The connection which crackles in the rubbing together of two seemingly disparate elements is the essence of haiku.

And what you liked
or did -
no matter

once the moon
dipped down
and fish rose
from under 

This is an ominous tone that certainly relates to the first stanza of "The radio"." Just swap out the second stanzas in these two poems to see how tonally similar they truly are, and how very ominous, too.

Cid concludes his introduction with the following:

Her father planted trees for their community, where they stand still and more tall. She planted words where "carp-fed roots" sing every moment we light them that much taller yet. I leave you with her flowering shade.

Published by the Elizabeth Press back in 1976, this is not an easy volume to get a hold of economically (check the first link above for possible copies). More small press history than Small Press Friday, it would behoove a reader to keep an eye out for a copy to grace shelf and mind.

old pond--
please, you go first
frog jumping
translated by David G. Lanoue

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Ed Baker said...

the poems in this book of hers in the section "1960-1964" of the Collected LN beautifully put together by Jenny Penberthy....

Jenny Penberthy an editor of the HIGHEST integrity.... she would be a terrific person to do a Selected Works of Cid Corman and also a Man and Poet book ?

here is a photo that I took in 2003 :

et ceteras
that won't "get into the history books"

Anonymous said...

and there's Niedecker's title poem:

Your erudition
the elegant flower
of which

my blue chicory
at scrub end
of campus ditch


Thanks, ever, Don,

tom said...

Lorine has been one of my favorites since I first discovered her in Corman's Gist of Origin. Thank you, Don

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Thanks, Ed. Has most of Blue Chicory been incorporated in Collected LN via Jenny Penberthy.

And here's to a new selected Cid ...

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Donna ... thanks for sending this one along.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Hey, Tom, thanks for dropping in and glad you liked the post (i.e. LN's work, not mine).

Ed Baker said...

you just might have fun looking through the Contents pages in this "LOOK INSIDE" feature:

it looks like for the cost of a copy of this book
you can drive from Pittsburg to heree and read my copy ?

Jenny's LN Woman and Poet is also ..... fun.

and of course the 1985 edition which has a nice Preface re this Selected....

was VERY neat to visit LN's environs in 2003.... and many of her friends...

I don't have a copy of Blue Chicory and I do believe that it was produced in 1976 and that just maybe
the pieces therein are in various sections of the Penberthy COLLECTED ?
(in one of the photos that I took sitting in the back at a table is LN's friend Gail Roub and her husband.

in the piece in the LN Woman and Poet by Rachel Blau DuPlessis, here is a foot-note re: Blue Chicory ( and, Pardon me Rachel for not asking you if I could 'broadcast' this TO THE WORLD, as, my computer email address-boo crashed-and-burned several years ago and I lost yours so I guess tags (as Cid wrote me: "Ed, use anything of mine that furthers the cause [of poetry]. " so, here goes me unabashedly into R. B. Du Plessis' foot note on page119 ( so we are early into this Woman and Poet book:

"15. [....] indicated by a comment to Corman in 1965 (note the characteristic litotes and the weak rhetorics of agency in "got into"): "three or four of New Goose poems got into My Friend Tree, and the rest, except for a couple of them that I think could be forgotten, I've copied here enclosed for you" 53.
This indicates that she made a private "publication of one" to "reprint" most of New Goose for Corman. Fewer than six months before, she had made "Homemade Poems" for Corman, a 30 poem handmade book,
with poems that would appear in later collections like T&G and THE POSTHUMOUS BLUE CHICORY."

(caps mine)

and HEY I didn't even have to wikipeedia any of this and: I seldom if ever ever and never wonder what-would-have-become-of&via-me had I NOT dropped out 1975-1998 ?

things have certainly change.... seems to me that the Love and Integrity and openness has given way (almost) 100 % to Greed and Usury and Ego-driven
Kulchur.... especially in The Poetry World...

very refreshing to either review LN and the et ceteras both pre 1975 AND post 1998 ..... Most things are new and fresh to me ...
and the news of what became of people that I knew and/or read .... well ? What DOES it matter , as if it does ?

Ann Engelman said...

Many thanks! The Friends of Lorine Niedecker in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin also feel that "safe keeping Lorine" is important. We have a copy of this lovely volume in our collection. Come and see it and her cabin on Blackhawk Island where she lived.
We must pull
the curtians-
we haven't any

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Yes, Ed, I was checking out the look inside feature of the Collected Work - it would be nice to have both volumes, but I'd end up in jail reading them cause I'd probably have to rob a bank to afford them.

And, on top of that, I've misplaced Granite Pail somewhere around here. Thank God for the library!

Always good to get the personal perspective ... thanks for the notes, footnotes etc. Money is the last thing involved here, as you know. When I started issues of Lilliput Review were $1 in 1989 and the cost of a stamp was .25.

Today, issues are still $1 and the cost of a stamp is .46. To say nothing of the paper!

So it goes.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Thank you so much for your note and invite for folks to come see the cabin on Blackhawk Island.

And thanks, too, for the poem!

For those interested, more info may be found here.


Ed Baker said...

the "state of [everything]:

money-money-money-money-money, money.
all you think about is sex. That's what .... she .... said
along these same lines
Cid wrote:

" I'll be worth much more in the Market Place after I'm dad."

(me too ?)

and then he said:

Ed, you'll be read 25 years after you're dead..... IF THEN."

when I bought my two copies of The Granite Pail.... the original and the later one...
the postage for both cost more than the books !

I miss certain) people.... and the conversations that in any-which-ways we did not have.

Ann Engleman.... a new name to me.... Is Nancy yet around ?

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Amy runs the Friends of Lorine Niedecker and oversees her cabin ... I'm guess mini-museum.

And if by Nancy you mean Nancy Davenport, yes, she is and I can pass things on to her whenever.


Ed Baker said...

damn !

the "Nancy" I mean is Nancy Rafal....

and I mixed her up by thinking she was "Nancy" Roub
who EVERYBODY knows is Gail Roub.

blame it on that I was there at the LN 100th just a few months after my stroke (July 15, 2003 !

John Latta has a lot of neat LN "stuff" on his site.....

looks like he is close friends with Nancy Rafal, who, as I recall, was big help in getting Cid and Shizumi to the LN 100 th.

as for Nancy Davenport.... I used to hear from her..... from time to time.....

well, this-all is now getting TOO public for me, ciao, Ed