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Lorine Niedecker & The Very Variants

By Harriet Staff


Jenny Penberthy, editor of Lorine Niedecker’s Collected Works (published by UC Press) posted a note this week to Jacket 2— and– if you consult your Niedecker Collected often– you might want to take note. Penberthy’s recent post on Jacket 2 is a list of a few revisions to the 2002 edition of Niedecker’s Collected Works.

Penberthy begins:

This is a note to readers of Niedecker, particularly those who use the early printings of the Collected Works published by University of California Press in 2002.

A prefatory digression: in 1992, The Library Chronicle of the University of Texas published my account of the Lorine Niedecker holdings in the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center. I titled the essay “‘The Very Variant’: Lorine Niedecker’s Manuscript Collection,” meaning to echo her line “the very veery” in the poem that begins, “We are what the seas” (240) and to re-echo Niedecker’s play on Stein’s “The Very Valentine” — the precise, the singled out, the necessary, the insisted upon, etc.

I’m using the same title here (although this time in the plural) in order to correct the error I made back in 1992 where I put the “The Very Variant” in quotation marks as if I were quoting Niedecker. Given the small readership for the Chronicle, I have winced perhaps too often at that error. Using the same title here at least allows me to note my error while announcing a handful of far greater sleep disturbers in the Collected Works.

Before launching into those, I should mention another error in that 1992 piece in the Chronicle. There is, in fact, no “Lorine Niedecker Manuscript Collection” at the HRHRC. The collection that my essay described covered the Niedecker manuscripts that formed part of the 1964 Zukofsky bequest. Further papers were sent to the center by Niedecker and later by her husband, following Niedecker’s instructions. These papers were all absorbed into the Zukofsky collection. Look up Niedecker in the HRHRC catalogue and there’s no sign of her: a cataloguing error waiting to be addressed.

Read Jenny Penberthy’s complete list of revisions to Lorine Niedecker’s Collected Works at Jacket 2.

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Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, June 27th, 2013 by Harriet Staff.