Thursday, September 10, 2009

No layoffs from this condensery

Black Hawk held: In reason

land cannot be sold,
only things to be carried away,
and I am old.

I just got back from giving a reading with Emily Warn at Milwaukee's superb home for poetry, Woodland Pattern. What a great place to browse and treasure hunt! Emily picked up a fantastic Ronald Johnson broadside and an armload of books. J. and I bought all kinds of stuff, including a tear-inducingly poignant late book by Bern Porter!

But best of all: thanks to the extraordinary generosity and delightfulness of our hosts, Chuck Stebelton and WP owner/poet/UPS truck driver/activist/Niedecker caretaker Karl Gartung, we spent a day paying homage to Lorine Niedecker at her cabin on Black Hawk Island near Ft. Atkinson, and at her graveside.

I went canoeing with poet and teacher-of-many-things Patrick Moran (whose work was recently introduced to readers by D.A. Powell, and whose brother Jim runs the amazing Hamilton Wood Type Museum!) on the Rock River.

Sadly, her humble cabin was humbled further when it got flooded last summer; here's a before & after:

I can scarcely articulate how much I admire Niedecker as a person and poet.. so I won't try; to gush would be inapt, for as Basil Bunting memorably put it, no one said so much with so few words.

And it's just as well that blogger software makes it hard to indent poems properly, because I'd be tempted to infringe a copyright by reproducing Niedecker's "Paean to Place," which was inescapably in our minds. But you can read it by clicking here... which I hope you'll do: "Do not save love / for things / Throw things / to the flood."

Perhaps you'll come to the Lorine Niedecker Wisconsin Poetry Festival on October 3rd and 4th; please support both the Friends of Lorine Niedecker and Woodland Pattern if you care for her work and for folks who are unbelievably dedicated to poetry. What a great and humbling respite from po-biz sludge!

Pictured up top: "Mouth of the River" from Niedecker's "Handmade Poems," in the Danowski collection at Emory University; photo by Jim Sitar (click it to enlarge)


Kent Johnson said...

Great article. Fort Atkinson is a good town to visit. Still people there who remember Niedecker, and I've talked to some of them (I stop there for the night maybe once or twice a year, part of fishing expedition). A shocker to see the old house under flood like that (maybe the State Historical Site marker is under water!), but that's the Rock, and she writes about its moods. I don't think that's the same house, though, in the top picture, Don, as the river there looks at normal stage, and the homestead house sits considerably farther back from the bank (unless it was moved when the new one was built, maybe that's it). And you are right about Woodland Pattern's devotion to her memory and work.


Don Share said...

Nope, it's the same - photo direct from the Friends of Lorine Niedecker. A garage, tho', was added later.