Lydia Tomkiw is probably better known as half of Algebra Suicide, an inventive and eclectic post-punk duo which found Tomkiw declaiming her lyrics over drum machines and electric guitar. If you’re lucky you might find their albums secondhand, otherwise some of this music is still available on a couple of Bandcamp compilations.
Tomkiw was also an accomplished poet – although many poems were used as lyrics – and was championed in the UK by Martin Stannard and Geoff Hattersley, who both undertook a reading tour with her, whilst the latter published her book The Dreadful Swimmers through his imprint The Wide Skirt. Otherwise, Tomkiw’s publications were pamphlets and chapbooks, some self-produced, all now impossible to find. Until, that is, the publication of this 409 page book, which I have only just come across, although it bears a 2020 copyright date.
The band and poet both came out of Chicago in…
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