Lorine Niedecker
By: Suzanne Fischer | Categories: HiLo Heroes

Niedecker_lorine

LORINE NIEDECKER (1903–70), walking back and forth across the bridge from Black Hawk Island, Wisconsin, to dull work in Fort Atkinson. Lorine listening to records, Lorine observing the birds, nursing her mother in spite of her father’s mistress, watching the waters rise around her little house the year of the flood. Lorine doing her real work (poet’s work):

Grandfather
  advised me:
   Learn a trade

I learned
  to sit at desk
   and condense

No layoff
  from this
   condensery

Lorine the student in Beloit, the WPA writer in Madison, the wife in Milwaukee. The never-quite-famous, the Zukofsky correspondent, the Zukofsky lover. (These so-called Objectivists dove in and out of obscurity like ducks. Mary Oppen recalls a friend in the 1950s, astonished to discover that George had been a famous poet.) Lorine isolated, searching for publishers, living through letters. Lorine living through lines, cut down, faceted, honed.

***

On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Tony Hancock, Edward Lear, Philip Gordon Wylie, Katharine Hepburn, Joseph Beuys, George Carlin, Ian Dury, Bernadette Mayer.

READ MORE about men and women born on the cusp between the Hardboiled (1894-1903) and Partisan (1904-13) Generations.

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Suzanne Fischer is a historian of technology and museum curator who lives in Detroit. Find her on twitter @publichistorian.