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Lorine Niedecker’s Homemade Poems Now Available at Longhouse

By Harriet Staff

We recently got our hands on this insanely lovely publication from Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative; and it’s just been made available at A LONGHOUSE BIRDHOUSE (blog for Longhouse press). “The idea for this chapbook, a facsimile edition of the handmade book Lorine Niedecker sent to Cid Corman in 1964, cropped up several years ago.” Editor John Harkey’s “Usable Dimensions: An Afterword,” a pamphlet insert to Niedecker’s Homemade Poems, reads:

My zeal for textual knowledge in this case drove me to seek out Homemade Poems in the New York Public Library’s Berg Collection of English and American Literature, where the book is held as part of Cid Corman’s papers. Encountering the book that day — spending time reading its poems in just the form Niedecker had so deliberately inscribed and arranged then — immediately stirred in me a conviction that the textual production itself, in some form or version, deserved a much wider readership, a life outside of the archive.

. . .

As editor for this project, my central objective has been to create an accurate, commensurate reading edition of Homemade Poems that allows the work to be experienced roughly as Niedecker first gave form to it. However well poetry is designed and printed, anthologies of all kinds necessarily have a way of superseding or drowning out the sort of reading experience described above. The very job of any massive, unified anthology is to subsume the smaller, heterogeneous works that are fed into it. In a case like Homemade Poems, this effect is even more pronounced: its singular materiality and text-deployment set it utterly apart from any sort of printed, standardized, mass-produced version.

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Posted in Poetry News on Monday, June 25th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.