niedecker You are the man

You are my other country

And I find it hard going

You are the prickly pear

You are the sudden violent storm

The torrent to raise the river

to float the wounded doe

Lorine Niedecker

I discovered her on a poster on a bus. Part of the Poetry in Motion campaign sponsored by the Poetry Society of America and the MTA. Had I walked or driven, I would have never heard of her. And never fallen in love with this poem.

Poet Lorine Niedecker, the daughter of a Wisconsin fisherman, always understood that she was meant to examine words, to glean language, for meaning beyond its every-dayness, whatever the struggle:

I was the solitary plover

A pencil for a wing-bone

From the secret notes

I must tilt

Upon the pressure

Execute and adjust

In us sea-air rhythm

We live by the urgent wave of the verse

She endured penury and isolation. Though she achieved some acclaim on the literary fringe, she had a hard life and her work, published by small presses, reached only a limited audience before her death in 1970. Her work was austere, free of all ornament, relying on the fundamental rhythms of concise statement, and to many readers it must have seemed strange and bare.

She is, however, in the estimation of many, the most interesting woman poet America has yet produced.

michèle voltaire marcelin

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