Lorine Niedecker (1903-70) was a poet of the objectivist school who loved a quiet, almost reclusive life on Black Hawk Island near Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. Cid Corman, editor of the influential and pioneering literary journal Origin, learned of Niedecker from poet Louis Zukofsky. This annotated edition of the letters from Niedecker to her editor and fellow poet Corman charts the development of a warm and important literary friendship. These letters furnish some of the only biographical information available on the reticent Niedecker, reveal the literary process in progress, and demonstrate how much being a poet in America is a matter of choice, hard work, and a clearheaded commitment to the realities of time and place.
The early letters were written before Niedecker's marriage and at a time when the poet had "more trees for friends than people." In these letters from Black Hawk Island, Niedecker sought a community of fellow poets. The following period, the Milwaukee years, form the bulk of the collection and saw the establishment of Niedecker's identity as a poet. From the city of "point-top towers," she wrote Corman frequently about poetry, other poets, current events, and daily life. After her return in 1969 to Black Hawk Island, relieved of earlier anxieties over publication, she was confidently at work on her sequences, her most serious poetic undertaking.