Woodburners Celebrates Lorine Niedecker's Centenary With Photographs

Wisconsin / October 2003



I think of a tree

to make it




The Woodburners have been building a new house roof the three months since the last entry of books in early summer '03 and little time or indulgence to write-up any book recommendations. The big and saucy new Neruda collection is here, the rambling Tom Raworth Collected from Carcanet, the interviews with filmmaker Herzog on Herzog and much more but I'm working on memory. The expansive steel roof is now shedding downpours and while we were at it we spilled over onto the large attached woodshed and added steel onto that. New rafters were 20 feet long and the lumberyard driver - when finally negotiating our hill - pulled his shiplike cargo around and slipped the steel load off and into our hands. Carson on one end, Susan balancing the middle and Bob pulling the very long steel sheets up onto rafters and purlins and everybody then like elves with juggling screws, awls, portable drill, sun heat & sneakers. By September we had a day free to go see Janine and Andy in Woodstock. We took each other to The Bear and had one of those scrumptous and expensive suppers few have the money for. Albert Grossman is laid to rest somewhere out on the grounds - by an easy going stream - Janine took us out there. More roof work back at home tightening things. The train tickets arrived for the Wisconsin trip and to help celebrate out-loud the 100th birthday for Lorine Niedecker in downtown Milwaukee for a few days, and then one final day out at her birthplace of Fort Atkinson. This was organized by many and funded by even more but finally torched by the good gang at Woodland Pattern: bookstore, art gallery, writer friendly to the core and having once taken their namesake from a Paul Metcalf line. A Milwaukee hotel was cordoned off for poets - imagine that, almost every floor. And by the end of the stay the two elevators that dropped us into a sidewalk lobby were exhausted. One broken down. Every morning poets met in the basement dining room for breakfast. Those that didn't meet there were met on the elevator going to & fro, in the lobby, on the sidewalk walking to the daily events: academic papers in the morning, local enthusiasts and scholars for everything-Lorine by afternoon, films, and even a tape of Lorine Niedecker reading (the only one ever made) by Cid Corman visiting Niedecker near the end of her life. Cid & Shizumi were here from Kyoto. They brought along fine fellow Chuck Sandy. Ted Enslin was coming by Thursday with Mark Nowak. Thomas A. Clark was the opening reader the first evening with tides and blue water skies of Scotland. Jenny Penberthy midwifed and like Anne Waldman was hardly ever not present at every event. Dynamos for the cause. John Martone was that quiet presence with us. Ed Baker was with cane, camera, high-voltage verbal carnival and often going by the name Bob Arnold...so I played Alias. Rich Owens was the guy who looked like he just stepped off 77 Sunset Strip and drove his Toyota truck straight from New Jersey and then back, all for poetry. Jonathan Greene read his poems, helped set the story straight about Niedecker's publishing history and is one of the maestros's at keeping her work very much in print. John & Jasna Phillips from Cornwall were absolutely smitten to be involved and someday soon John will be heard reading his poems. I did coax him to read later on at Nancy Rafal's home in Door County (two-steps from Wintergreen Ridge) and while John smiled at me saying he would "cut my throat later on" for putting him in such a position - ah, what a position/the center of attention! - he found out after his first public reading, he kind of liked it. Nancy Rafal was the angel in disguise who helped a great many of us to be Wisconsin-bound in the first place. Michael Mann was a joy to meet handing out his maverick to the core publications in Woodland Pattern. Nothing ever will beat the poet who goes door-to-door. Personal thanks to Michael Farmer for going way out of his way coming down from Door County and he's at the wheel and swings us up to Green Bay and right to the shrine of Lambeau Field for Packers heaven. So what if we got lost for a few miles afterwards....we smile about it now. And to finally meet Phyllis Walsh, Tom Montag. Laura Winter, Maureen Owen, Lisa Jarnot. Eleni Sikelianos, and so many other fine poets. Many of us tramped out to Blackhawk Island, Lorine's books in the town library, exhibits, and to stand at her grave and then her home. We came for her. The photographs included here as Longhouse-on-wheels are all by Susan Arnold and meant 100% more as a family album that happened as it happened. Not a documentary; certainly not even close to being a well representation of what occured over four jammed packed days. Someone else probably has that. We offer a little corner of the pie; come share it.

- Bob Arnold 


cid corman at woodland pattern book center, milwaukee

shizumi corman

shizumi, cid, susan & bob arnold, john phillips


ed baker, cid & shizumi corman, chuck sandy

bob arnold, john martone, jonathan greene

shizumi & cid corman, bob arnold, jasna phillips

nancy rafal

shizumi & cid corman

cid corman & bob arnold

cid, rich owens, chuck sandy, john phillips,

bob arnold, anne waldman

fort atkinson

jasna & susan

door county

ted enslin & bob arnold in fort atkinson

ted enslin, cid corman, bob arnold ready to read at fort atkinson senior high school

lorine's hand pump, blackhawk island


jasna, shizumi, cid, john phillips

lorine & al's blackhawk island home: rich owens, shizumi, jasna, cid,

john, bob, chuck, tom montag

photographer susan arnold by bob

~ Lorine Niedecker Titles available from Longhouse ~


A Cooking Book


"Dear Charles Reznikoff... "

"Dear Mary Hoard"

The Full Note: Lorine Niedecker

Blue Chicory

Origin, Fourth Series No. 16 July 1981 (Lorine Niedecker feature)

The Granite Pail Selected Poems of Lorine Niedecker

Between Your House and Mine : The Letters of Lorine Niedecker to Cid Corman 1960-1970

New Goose

Truck 16: The Lorine Niedecker issue


Copyright Fall 2003 by Bob & Susan Arnold
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