Prairie City, IL: The Press of James A. Decker, 1946. First edition. 52 pp. Tan cloth boards, front board and spine lettered in gilt, with the dust jacket. Slight toning to endpapers; jacket has some edgewear and a couple of short closed tears. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
The extremely rare first book by a poet whose importance has only continued to rise since her death in 1970. Niedecker lived almost all her life on Black Hawk Island, near Fort Atkinson in southern Wisconsin. “The Brontes had their moors, I have my marshes,” she said of the intense relationship she held with the place she lived, her life by water. She was at the same time highly involved with the mid-century avant-garde poetry scene, particularly with Louis Zukofsky, with whom she corresponded weekly for decades. Basil Bunting said of her, “She was, in the estimation of many, the most interesting woman poet America has yet produced. Her work was austere, free of all ornament, relying on the fundamental rhythms of concise statement, so that to many readers it must have seemed strange and bare. She was only beginning to be appreciated when she died, but I have no doubt at all that in 10 years time Wisconsin will know that she was its most considerable literary figure.”
This copy is inscribed by Niedecker to A[lbert] O[laus] Barton, Wisconsin journalist and politician. Due to her insularity books inscribed by Niedecker are rare. We’ve not seen a copy of New Goose in the trade in over a decade; only one copy found at auction in the past forty years. OCLC locates a relatively small twenty-six copies. A true black tulip of twentieth-century poetry. Item #2241