Friday, November 30, 2012

Spain: Buffalo Days

Hunched in an old felt green armchair at 1001 Lafayette Ave.
Must have been Jeremy Taylor introduced us all
Because of the demonstrations against HUAC.

Hunched over a small acoustic guitar,
He played in the classical style
Almost painfully sweet these melodies he was inventing
Moreso coming from a man of such power.

He had drawn the cover of Landscape of Contemporary Cinema
My first published book, co-authored with Leon Lewis.
His work even then defined Iconic.
And Cindy, writing short stories under the name N. Howard.

Riding security with the Road Vultures.
Protecting by this act many young undergrads
Otherwise might have been beaten that day
During the protest at the McCarthy-era Committee's
Leaving D.C.'s confines first time in years....
Given the keys to the city, Buffalo, 1964.

Around the monument across from City Hall they rode
Spain in the lead, holding aloft
(Was it in his right hand, or his left?)
The black anarchist flag
Of the Spanish Civil War.

It was truly a sight to behold!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Asa Benveniste

These two contiguous paragraphs posted below from the only published prose essay of poet and publisher/printer/book designer (Trigram Press) Asa Benvensite, are excerpted from Language: Enemy, Pursuit which was initially published by Poltroon Press (1980) and reprinted in mimeomimeo, issue number 4 (Winter 2010), edited by Kyle Schlesinger and Jed Birmingham.

There is unpublished correspondence between Asa and Cid Corman (between the UK and Kyoto) praising Louis Zukofsky's 80 Flowers, and there were notes toward an essay on Zukofsky, which he was writing toward the end of his life, but they seem to be lost.  There are also his "last letters" to me in the 1980's which I published in Branch Redd Review (issue #6, 2002).   Tom Raworth's obituary for Asa was published by Critical Quarterly, vol. 32, no.3.

Gematria.  A fierce confrontation with word, one of the best ways to barricade oneself against the confused inlay.  Linguistics is not language.  No one "understands" language.  Communication is the last word to use to describe its purpose. Though to every poet, as to every Kabbalist, there must be more to those words than their beauty.  That their meaninglessness itself is part of the divine (linguistic) fabric.  In the end, at the start, early Kabbalists believed that the whole of the Torah consisted of one word only, though each of the lettters had seventy aspects, and the Torah as a whole had 600,000 meanings, on four levels of interpretation, all leading to the profoundest meaning which was "meaninglesss," which was not open to understanding but was only itself.

And is that true of poetry? One thing it cannot be: story.  It must not be based on experience  " of the forms of paralysis" (Satie).  It cannot be descriptive.  It cannot be about love.  It cannot be about hate.  It cannot contain specific meaning. It must avoid sensuality.  It must not be capable of restatment in another language.  It must not be allegorical.  It cannot be translatable into a foreign language.  It must have no beginning or conclusion.  If it's "about" anything it must be about language.  It must be language.  That's the only kind of poem which will keep its divinity.  It must have 600,000 meanings and in the end be "meangingless."


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

I voted for Obama in 2008, and I am  exercising my right not to vote today, but then New Jersey is not a swing state (now that Sinatra's gone), and is solid; and after his post-Sandy visit, maybe even  Chris Christie might just have another look at himself, and vote for him.  It is still a secret ballot after all.  Of course, one's cynicism remembers someone saying "it doesn't matter who you vote for, what matters is who counts the ballots."  Even though I have posted against Obama-driven policies and/or the lack of them, I can't believe the people of America will elect Romney.  If he is elected, will we still be permitted to say that Moby Dick is the greatest book ever written by an American?  Or will The Book Of Mormon be placed alongside it on the curriculum? 

If the land had not been abused, the rivers and the ocean would have someplace to go and to be absorbed naturally.  If only developers and their cohorts hadn't built apartments and expensive homes
where before there were only dunes (natural dunes) and least here on the South Jersey shore...yet, I myself bought into a beach and ocean view.  The probem was there, as Chris Gilmore once said, I came to the problem.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Nov. 1.  Am ok. Thanks to all those who tried to contact me.  No electricity three days, only battery radio.  Had written some stuff during the hurricane, but forget that, will just say must have been the eye here or near, much debris, damage, etc., ocean was wild of course, bulkhead outside this bldg. destroyed. The bldg. itself hard hit, though trees withstood it, but while waiting for electricity to come back, water pipe or some thing burst today and after some drenching, sons of building's plumber arrived to turn off the water at the main, so no water for I don't know how long, maybe a few days maybe a week or more?  I just don't know; maybe find out tomorrow; they won't let anyone from off shore come on island yet, and if you leave you can't return until they say so.  No deaths here I know of on this barrier island.  Being thrown back on oneself in the aftermath was, until the flooding and the fire alarm going loudly off, a rather spiritual enterprise of sorts though not necessarily recommended, and although the fire department said it was safe to go back inside, the alarm-fix people are not on island and have for the moment been denied entrance, so one waits.

Anyway, the lockdown is now lifted after 5 p.m. so I am fortunate, really, since I have a car and can go to a hotel offshore if need be.  However, only residents are permitted in now, and there will be long lines waiting to come over the Margate Bridge even when off island emergency services are allowed in to turn off the fire alarm.

For a more objective and less first-person impressionistic take on the hurricane as it hit Margate in particular, see for Nov. 1,  the blog of Glenn Klotz.

And thanks, great thanks, to all those who offered to put me  up.  I really didn't think there were so many  who cared.  ...  and to Keith, for the shout-out from across the seas.      

Margate, NJ

addendum: Nov. 2nd.

The sea was born of the earth without sweet union of love Hesiod says

But that then she lay for heaven and she bare the thing which encloses
every thing, Okeanos the one which all things are and by which nothing
is anything but itself, measured so

(Charles Olson, Maximus, From Dogtown -I)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Times like these I wish my old friend Christopher Cook Gilmore were still here

A Mandatory (mandatory evacuation order) in force from tomorrow, the 28th.  I plan on going out only for batteries, maybe peanut butter.  No one allowed to go off or onto the island after 4.p.m., downbeach in lockdown.   Stocked up on bottled water, non-perishables.  Flashlight, since electrics will doubtless go off at some point.  Still, it would be nice to have a DVD of Key Largo.  No tellin' when you will be permitted to return if you leave - 3 nights maybe longer, who knows.  For the moment, I'm goin' nowhere.  Too out-of-it to make the 60 mile drive to hotel in Philadelphia (or some motel along the route) as I did last year during the Mandatory when Irene came ashore. Casino Hotels in Atlantic City closed.  Interesting how nary a seagull can be seen now on the beach.  Ancient Chinese curse: "May you live in exciting times." 

(Margate, NJ, October 28th. 12:30 a.m. - 2 a.m.)

"Same Day, Later"

Time to give thanks to Vince, in the Phila. suburbs, for checking in to find out how I'm doing, and to my oldest friend, Len, who e-mailed from out there in Wisconsin where he is Emeritus in Jurisprudence at the law school.  Perhaps he can explain to me how the then "liberal" majority on the Court, could have arrived at the decision they did in Kelo vs. City of New London, Connecticut.  I shake my head in bemused disbelief to find myself agreeing with Justice Thomas's concurring dissent. Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the minority opinion.  Because of this decision your land and your home can be expropriated not simply because it is in the public good or "purpose" but now also in the economic good - even if the developers are private, even if they are foreign corporations.  This allows the "travesty" (as one geologist in Oklahoma called it) of the Canadian oil pipeline through Oklahoma and Texas, and the oil out for export, not even using American workers or parts manufactured in the U.S.  This is of course even before approval for the pipeline from Canada through Nebraska.    And permits fracking even if access by the owner is denied.  And moutain-top removal strip mining for coal.


Most who are going to other places or homes, have left.  Some are staying.

Sorry no snaps (or video)  of ocean waves since I have no digital camera, or in fact any working camera except a Brownie Hawkeye sans film. 

Now it's evening.  High tide soon, Sandy due for landfall on Monday.  24 hours of rain to follow.  Power outages, if they happen, are always a drag at the very least.  Hopefully the pine trees outside my windows will survive the wind.

Well, I'm all in favor of better safe than sorry, but Govenor Soprano's mandatory evac order doesn't help the people of Atlantic City many of whom do not have the money to just go away for 3 days. Many are sent to Atlantic City with a one-way bus ticket from some misbegotten and doubtless uncaring social service outside of the area.  Some have to ride it out.  There are shelters of course, and Absecon Island emergency services are usually very good.  They could set up shelters in Trump's 2 casinos of course.  That'll be the day. 

High tide now passed.  Nothing exceptional happening here yet.  Poet Ketan Ben Caesar called from Philly.  Judy (  from Oregon with an e-mail.  Paul, now on Buffalo Avenue, Ventnor, checking in with a call, monitoring things, looking after his elderly father, and with his girlfriend.  Then Nechama, my Israeli friend in Philadelphia, phoned to ask after me.  She and her partner, Eli, a bit concerned if their electrics go out since everything is electric where they live on the 11th floor in center city.  My cousin here in a condo down the road, also on the 11th floor, and everything electric there too,  Still, this isn't Syria, with random bombs. 

All these calls - sometimes I go a whole week or more without conversation except to ask to get a refill please on the coffee.  As old and as hearing-impaired as I am, I reckon it is still Romantic here in a storm.  Not a monster one though heading right for New Jersey.  Winds up to Cat. 1, the news now reports. Tomorrow morning through evening is the big day they say.....   

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rupert Brooke (1887 - 1915)

There's Wisdom In Women

"Oh love is fair and love is rare;" my dear one she said,

"But love goes lightly over."  I bowed her foolish head,

And kissed her hair and laughed at her.  Such a child was she;

So new to love, so true to love, and she spoke so bitterly.

But there's wisdom in women, of more than they have known,

And thoughts go racing through them, are wiser than their own,

Or how should my dear one, being ignorant and young,

Have cried on love so bitterly, with so true a tongue?

(June 1913)

The  first new edition of The Collected Poems Of Rupert Brooke in almost 100 years was published in 2010 by The Oleander Press (Cambridge, England), with an Introduction by Lorna Beckett (Chair, The Rupert Brooke Society).

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

poem by R.S. Thomas

A Peasant

Iago Prytherch his name, though, be it allowed,
Just an ordinary man of the bald Welsh hills,
Who pens a few sheep in a gap of cloud.
Docking mangels, chipping the green skin
From the yellow bones with a half-witted grin
Of satisfaction, or churning the crude earth
To a stiff sea of clods that glint in the wind -
So are his days spent, his spittled mirth
Rarer than the sun that cracks the cheeks
Of the gaunt sky perhaps once in a week.
And then at night see him fixed in his chair
Motionless, except when he leans to gob in the fire.
There is something frightening in the vacancy of his mind.
His clothes, sour with years of sweat
And animal contact, shock the refined,
But affected, sense with their stark naturalness.
Yet this is your prototype, who, season by season
Against siege of rain and the wind's attrition,
Preserves his stock, an impregnable fortress
Not to be stormed even in death's confusion.
Remember him, then, for he, too, is a winner of wars,
Enduring like a tree under the curious stars.

Monday, July 30, 2012


In this new book, published by Verso, Owen Jones analyses the hidden agendas in the Britain of  Thatcher-Blair-Cameron; however it is applicable to American politics as well, where, as one commentator points out, in the U.S. "the illusion is similarly perpetuated...that the middle class is all that matters."  Jones explores how the working class has gone from 'salt of the earth' to 'scum of the earth' and as Eric Hobsbawm notes in his praise of the book, it is "passionate and well-documented."  Jones writes that "the demonization of the working class is the ridiculing of the conquered by the conqueror....the fashionable idea that people at the bottom deserve their lot in life....Get rid of all the cleaners, rubbish collectors, bus drivers, supermarket checkout staff and secretaries, for example, and society would quickly grind to a halt.  On the other hand, if we woke up one morning to find that all the highly paid advertising executives, management consultants and private equity directors had disappeared, society would go on much as it did before: in a lot of cases, probably quite a bit better."  The demonization was "an offensive against working-class communities, industries, values and institutions. No longer was being working class something to be proud of: it was something to escape from, never mind to celebrate. The wealthy were adulated.  All were now encouraged to scramble up the social ladder, and be defined by how much they owned.  This vision did not come from nowhere.  It was the culmination of a class war. Those who were poor or unemployed had no one to blame but themselves. Old working-class values, like solidarity, were replaced by dog-eat-dog individualism."  The ideal was "a property-owning individual who looked after themselves, their family, and no one else.  Aspiration meant yearning for a bigger car or a bigger house."  Working-class communities "were seen as the left-behinds, the remnants of an old world that had been trampled on by the inevitable march of history.  There was to be no sympathy for them: on the contrary, they were to be caricatured and despised."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

On William Bligh

There is a curious movement afoot to restore the reputation of the villainous Captain Bligh. Two books, The Bounty, by Caroline Alexander, now a decade old, and a new book, Bligh:William Bligh In The South Seas,  by Anne Salmond, both postulate that Bligh was hard done by, not a bad chap at all.  The latter book was favorably reviewed in The London Review Of Books (24 May 2012).  Both books ignore the best book on the Mutiny, which is What Happened On The Bounty, by Bengt Danielsson, published in 1962. Danielsson, the only non-Norwegian on the KON TIKI, settled in Tahiti, where he and his wife wrote Love In The South Seas, among other books.  Although Danielsson does not entirely trash Bligh, his is the only non-fiction book which takes into consideration the oral evidence gathered from Tahitian people concerning the Mutiny.

The British establishment spin-doctors who actually promoted Bligh from Lieutenant to Captain after the court-martial were the same Royal Society scoundrels who falsified the accounts of Cook's Hawaiian journals (see To Steal A Kingdom by Michael Dougherty (Island Style Press, Hawaii, 1992).  Dougherty's account of Hawaiian history, cultural history, and the disgraceful exploitation of the Hawaiian people is enlightening, names names, discloses motives.  His well-researched and accurate text is widely read and studied in Hawaii.   
Bligh needed to reinforce his megalomania by making the long voyage in the open boat, thus proving he was one of the world's best navigators.  Other than the Tahitians (who navigated the entire Pacific by "dead reckoning" - i.e. no sextant nor compass, just the stars above) he may well have been, but he could have sailed less than a thousand miles to the island of Tubuai, a place he had anchored in before, but insisted to the men in his boat that Tubuai was a cannibal island.  True, Tubuai was against the prevailing trade winds, but the Bounty mutineers had returned there for supplies, and it would have not been an overwhelmingly difficult journey.  Fletcher Christian had expected Bligh to make for the Tongas, an easy voyage, but Bligh was obsessed with returning to England to report the mutiny, and he knew that he'd have to wait well over a year or more for a British ship at Tubuai or the Tongas, whereas if he could make the Dutch East Indies, Timor, he would have an excellent chance of finding a British ship to immediately take him to London.

12 of the men on Bligh's boat died before reaching London, and Bligh was not present at the trial of those mutineers who remained on Tahiti and were either eventually captured or gave themselves up.  The evidence he gave was simply in a written statement.  This resulted in the execution of three of the mutineers: Thomas Burkett, Thomas Ellison, and John Millward.  These three had no family connections to save them from the gallows, were only working-class seamen. 

In fact, after his promotion, there were two other subsequent mutinies against Bligh, in 1804, when he was given only a "reprimand" for "tyranny and  unofficer-like conduct and ungentlemanly behaviour" and in 1806, after he was appointed Governor of New South Wales and held prisoner in his residence for a year during the infamous "rum rebellion" in Australia.  After he returned to England he was promoted to Vice-Admiral and made a Fellow of the Royal Society!   He died in 1817 and is buried in St. Mary's churchyard in Lambeth.

The first clear evidence of what I can only call Bligh's insanity (seemingly a compulsive-obsessive disorder) was his attempt to reach Tahiti by sailing around Cape Horn, risking both his ship and the lives of the men under his command.  He had to turn back and went around Good Hope, the usual route, losing several months, which is why he had to anchor in Tahiti for five months during the South Pacific hurricane season to collect the uru (breadfruit) with which the British imperialists wanted to feed the slave population of the West Indies.  Of course, Bligh himself was in a closet sexually, which explains why he refused to participate in any of the "amorous pastimes" (as Danielsson puts it) of the open-hearted people of Polynesia.

(I had sent this information to the London Review Of Books as a riposte to their favorable review of the new book on Bligh,  but of course they declined to publish.  What the LRB does often publish are the nasty ravings of one of its editors, Andrew O'Hagen, who takes great pleasure in trying to sully the reputation of his fellow Scot, Robert Louis Stevenson, and his noble life and fine writings of the South Seas during the last years of his life, saying, for example, that Stevenson was really a homosexual (the "evidence" for this being his dandyish mode of dress) and that his Jekyll and Hyde was really a book about Stevenson's hidden homo-erotic life.  Recently, in the June 2, 2012 issue of that journal, he took delight in criticising Hemingway, ostensibly for becoming an alcoholic, but actually for the manliness and courage in wartime of his activities, falsifying what Hemingway did and did not do, and then denigrating  not only his great and lasting literary achievments, but his deep friendship with Fitzgerald.  I do find it irksome that people who can't write their way out of a paper bag so easily find establishment outlets for their jealousy and bile.  In the same way, writers of literary Theory, which came primarily from France, epitomised the condescending nature of academicians in Britain and in the U.S. who rapidly took it up, defaming creative efforts they themselves obviously aspired to but could not achieve.)          

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Jeremy Hilton & the FIRE project

After 35 issues over a period of 17 years, English poet and editor-publisher of the poetry journal, Fire, Jeremy Hilton, has packed it in, leaving him more time to concentrate on his own poetry and also on his musical compositions in the European classical tradition, the  most recent of which was performed last month at Lauderdale House in London. Author of 10 published collections of poetry, he is one of Britain's best poets, with appearances beginning in the early 1970's in the now legendary 20 issues of Poetry Review edited by Eric Mottram.

I can't be objective about Fire having first met Jeremy in 1976 when Allen and Elaine Fisher invited me to accompany them on a journey up North to see Jeff Nuttall, and to stop off on the way to visit with Paul Buck and Glenda George, and Ulli Freer.  In recent years, Jeremy and I have become good friends, and he has published my own work, poetry and essays (once as a Guest Editorial), in many issues, well over 30 pages, in the print journal, including the final number, and in six of the dozen or so issues he's put online. (see - #'s 26, 17, 12, 11, 9, 8).

However, it is fair to say that Fire was as much a Project as a poetry journal.  Most issues ran to well over 250 tightly packed pages, and Jeremy idealistically refused all grants from Arts funding bodies, preferring to finance each issue from his pension as a social case-worker.  He accepted new work by more previously unpublished poets (and "emerging" poets) in the 17 years than any other editor in the history of English small press publishing, and in each issue published the work of schoolchildren/teenage poets alongside the poetry of old-timers like myself.  As Jeremy had written, his aim was to publish poetry which "doesn't fit within the narrow stereotypes of so many magazines."

In fact you'd be hard-pressed to name very many UK innovative/experimental/"unorthodox"/ poets who did not appear in the mag at least once or twice, and there were many "regulars" among the usual suspects besides myself: Colin Simms, John Welch, Chris Torrance, Harry Guest, Owen Davis, to name but five.  Jeremy was also more open to submissions from the U.S. than most other British editors, and the list of distinguished American poets he published includes Adrian C. Louis, Lyn Lifshin, Philip Levine, Barbara Guest, and others less-well known like the late Albert Huffstickler.

Double Issue 29/30 (The International Issue) ran to 400 pages of work from around the world, in English and in translations from poets including Anselm Hollo, Jonathan Griffin, Anthony Rudolf, Joseph P. Clancy (translating Bobi Jones), Thomas Land (translating Radnoti), Ketaki Kushari Dyson (translating Buddhadeva Bose), and many many others.

Like others approaching 3 score and 10, Jeremy has been slowed some by health problems; however, he and his longtime partner, Kim Taplin, poet and prose eco-warrior (and mother-in-law of journalist/author Luke Harding), continue their birding activities from the old farmhouse in rural Oxfordshire.

Blessings and best wishes to my friend on the successful completion of his project.

(from London, April 2012)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Whitman Larkin

Goodbye, my Fancy!
Farewell, dear mate, dear love!
I'm going away, I know not where,
Or to what fortune or whether I may ever see you again.
So Good-bye my Fancy.

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows
The sun-comprehending glass.
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


"The appeal of the Byronic hero is not hard to understand. He is, in Herbert Read's delightful phrase, the "super-realist personality" who by the absolute courage of his defiance of moral and social taboos becomes "the unconfessed hero of humanity." He exists in one form or another in the dream life of all of us, whether we like it or not, as the embodiment of those impulses cramped or inhibited by society. He is the expression of our social insecurity, our distrust of our fellows, our dissatisfaction with authority, our disillusionment with social achievement. He is the symbol of our defiant refusal to accept the insignificant role of the individual ego in society or the universe which modern knowledge forces upon us. In short, he represents the ego in conflict with the forces battering to subdue or destroy it - the ego which triumphs even in its moment of defeat." (Edward E. Bostetter, Introduction to Byron's "Selected Poetry And Letters" - Rinehart Editions)

Yet, inevitably:

So, we'll go no more a roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving
And the moon be still as Bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul outwears the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a roving
By the light of the moon.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

with thanks to my friend Keith Woolnough

Here's an excerpt from Longfellow in response to "F. Scott" Romney, who would be POTUS, and who believes the "very poor" are different from him, and, like Oliver Twist, mustn't ask for more.

Titled "Challenge" the poem closes Jack London's book THE PEOPLE OF THE ABYSS.

There is a greater army
That besets us round with strife,
A starving, numberless army
At all the gates of life.

The poverty-stricken millions
Who challenge our wine and bread,
And impeach us all as traitors,
Both the living an the dead.

And whenever I sit at the banquet,
Where the feast and song are high,
Amid the mirth and music
I can hear that fearful cry.

And hollow and haggard faces
Look into the lighted hall,
And wasted hands are extended
To catch the crumbs that fall.

And within there is light and plenty,
And odors fill the air;
But without there is cold and darkness,
And hunger and despair.

And there in the camp of famine,
In wind, and cold, and rain,
Christ, the great Lord of the Army,
Lies dead upon the plain.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sweet Lorine

"I was Blondie" she wrote....
"I worked the print shop
right down among em
the folk from whom all poetry flows
and dreadfully much else"
I can understand why Mark Scroggins, in his biography of Zukofsky, fought shy of  Lorine Niedecker's role in Z's life and his poetry; however, as Margot Peters notes in LORINE NIEDECKER A POET'S LIFE (U. of Wisconsin Press, 2011) :
"Scroggins's exclusion of LN from a life of LZ seems inexplicable unless one knows that LZ's son, Paul Zukofsky controls his literary estate and hence any biography.  PZ is, by all accounts, an obsessively private person determined to eradicate anything that might discredit his father."
There is much to discredit Louis Zukofsky personally: his wieldling his power over Lorine Niedecker to the extent that, in addition to bullying her into an abortion of what would have been, as it turned out, twins, although she wanted the child and had said she would never bother him for requests for money and would live as a single-parent mother back in Wisconsin,  he is responsible for having her, against her will, destroy all parts of her letters to him (and his to her) except those parts dealing specifically with attention and praise for his, Zukofsky's, poetry.  And all of their early intimate correspondence.  Of course Margot Peters's biography, though clearly written and most readable, and well-researched, does read sometimes (in its relating hearsay "evidence" in lieu of a microphone in Zukofsky's bedroom in his apartment in Manhattan where Lorine visited and stayed several times)  like a Janet Evanovitch novel.  Now I like her protagonist, Stephanie Plum, as well or more as the next guy.  I'm not overly keen on it all in a biography.  We learn, for example, that Pound and Zukofsky had sexual relations, Z considering P a "sexual predator"; that Jerry Reisman was Zukofsky's sexual partner before Lorine arrived on the scene.  Not a lot of authentication for this, but maybe it's common knowledge, I wouldn't know. 
Mark Scroggins skips too lightly over the "family romance" of the Orthodox Jewish Zukofsky family into which Louis was born, except to say that when he was bullied as a young boy on the streets, he would recite his way out of it by doing the Yiddish version of "Hiawatha" by Solomon Bloomgarden.  It doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize that he was never going to allow, if he could help it, a child of his to be born to a shiksa.  And he was not averse to having her type out all of his manuscripts, including the first parts of "A" his "poem of a life" in 23 plus one often arcane installments which go on and on too often like a broken record (except for A 16).  He uses language to keep his subconscious repressed or at least at bay while constructing what he perceives as moving closer to music in the exactitude and precision of words.  As Basil Bunting commented, sometimes it worked, although too often it was failed experiment (BBC Cassettes, conversation with Eric Mottram). In my opinion, Zukofsky is the most highly-overrated of 20th century innovative poets.  This is despite the exceptionally high opinion which both Cid Corman and my dear friend Asa Benveniste had of his work, and was celebrated between them in unpublished correspondence.  And the highly successful cognitive explication of 80 FLOWERS, by my old friend Leon Lewis (published in "The Writer's Chronicle" volume 40, number 4). All agreed Zukofsky was beyond difficult as a man.  The friendship with George Oppen went to breaking-point when Oppen admitted he preferred his own poems to Z's.  And Bunting was taken aback meeting Zukofsky again in New York, after a Bunting reading Z did not attend, and spending "a painful hour" later with him, describing Z as "very bitter and, strangely, very jealous."  The Artist is a Monster Cocteau wrote, and though no monster, Z was certainly a bit of a schmuck
Niedecker survived her broken heart syndrome, worked her sad way through the "For Paul" poems, and went on to become the greater poet of the two.  Wintergreen Ridge is one of the most outstanding eco-poems ever written, praising "Women / of good wild stock" who
Stood stolid
Before machines
They stopped bulldozers
We want it for all time
they said
Peters' bio does give you a fair sense of the hard rural poverty Niedecker lived in and through most all of her life.  Having made a pilgrimage some years ago with my oldest friend, Leonard V. Kaplan, then a professor at Wisconsin College of Law in Madison, I can attest to the almost dire nature of where/how she lived, having not even indoor plumbing for many years.  Her late-life marriage brought her a bit of comfort of sorts, and Cid Corman made the only tape of her reading her poems, just a few months before she died in 1970.  Her nickname was "Squeaky" in high school, and the remnants of that voice are present enough on the tape so that her detractors have commented on her "girlish" rather than "mature" voice.  "Every woman adores a Fascist" Sylvia Plath had written, and despite decades of failing eyesight (she used a magnifying glass over her spectacles to read), she faithfully, one might say slavishly, typed Z's manuscripts, which he sent to her from New York.  Zukofsky's work is polar opposite of Bukowski's (original spelling of his name: Bukofsky), and it is the avant garde end of Academia (an oxymoron) who now read Z's poetry.  When Zukofsky and his wife, Celia, and son, formed "a closed Trinity" as Carl Rakosi said, Lorine was ex-communicated.  Z's major work, "A", is, as Eric Mottram writes in the issue of John Taggart's MAPS devoted to Z's work, "Autobiography, organic poem, and history contrasted to perfection in art.  But this is a pattern of alibis for constructing an organic vision which takes place within the stasis of perfection."
Rita Dove omits both Niedecker and Zukofsky, along with Oppen, and of course so many others (Dorn!) in her Penguin American poetry anthology, in the pursuit of what?  Crow Jim? Not excellence, certainly, or why publish Amiri Baraka's weakest poems, which include his anti-Jewish prejudice, rather than his best work.  I reckon Dove either is ignorant of innovative poetry, willfully or not, or just has her own axe to grind against it.  Her anthology continues the tradition of the monied establishment dumbing-down  American life and Letters by setting up a Canon which keeps many of the omitted major poets out of mass distribution, just as Eliot, at Faber & Faber, kept Williams out (the first edition of WCW being published in the UK not until 1964, when Williams was already one year dead) and away from publishers' radar, and kept most if not all heterosexual poets at arm's length from Faber during his tenure there.  Niedecker is one of our great twentieth century poets.  Even though she spent years of her life scrubbing hospital floors in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, she never lost her dedication, and her idealistic belief in poetry as a Way.  Some of her short poems, like "I rose from marsh mud"; "There's a better shine"; "I married"; and a few others, are among the best we have.