Harkey edits new edition of poems

John Harkey, a second-year Brittain Fellow in Georgia Tech’s Writing and Communication Program, recently served as editor for a facsimile edition of Lorine Niedecker’s handmade book of poems from 1964, Homemade Poems. The edition has just been published through The City University of New York’s (CUNY) Center for the Humanities, as part of Lost and Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative. Archival research led Harkey to Niedecker’s original book, which is held in The New York Public Library’s Berg Collection. As editor, Harkey planned and oversaw the precise way the handwritten poems were reproduced, and he also wrote an afterword, titled “Usable Dimensions,” which is included in the facsimile as a pamphlet insert. Lorine Niedecker, a native of Wisconsin, was the only woman among the “Objectivist” group of American poets (who came to some prominence in the 1930s). Though she has been lesser-known and regarded as “marginal,” a mounting wave of scholarly attention over the past decade suggests that Niedecker is in fact centrally important to the landscape of 20th century American poetry. Harkey’s edition of Homemade Poems thus makes one more small contribution to this larger project of reassessing and kindling new interest in Niedecker’s work. Pre-release copies of Homemade Poems have already met with some strong shows of approval: in a web post that includes excerpts from Harkey’s afterword, The Poetry Foundation calls it an “insanely lovely publication,” and Niedecker’s literary executor, Bob Arnold, of Longhouse Books, has posted a video of the blue-inked booklet as he leafs through it. Homemade Poems is part of Lost and Found’s “Series III” (which includes six other archival publications pertaining to such poets as Langston Hughes, Charles Olson, and Diane DiPrima), which can be purchased, as a bundle, through the Lost and Found website.

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