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."
They turned off
In the transcendence
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
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 -
once the moon
and fish rose
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.
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