informative, Poetry

Wow. Heaven must be a big place.

(Lydia Tomkiw, Little Dead Bodies)

 

Lydia Tomkiw grew up in a tough neighborhood, Humboldt Park in Chicago. She was born in 1959 to Ukranian immigrant parents. She graduated from Lane Tech High School in 1977 and attended the University of Illinois/Chicago campus and Columbia College, where she received a masters in Disciplinary Arts.

She was a poet whose chapbooks included The Dreadful Swimmers and Popgun Sonatas. Her poem, Six of Ox Is, was included in the John Asheberry edited Best of American Poetry. Her work can be found in the Columbia Poetry Review, as well as a little poetry magazine from Ohio called Amanda Blue, which is how I personally first got to know her. (We advertised in diverse places like Rock Scene magazine, looking for adventurous poetry. We found some.)

In 1983, Lydia and her husband Don Hedeker formed a band, Algebra Suicide, melding Lydia’s spoken word with Don’s new wave/punk guitar. They gained a cult following in Chicago, which spread to international proportions. Algebra Suicide opened for musicians like John Cale, and Lydia was dubbed “the female Lou Reed.”

Six Algebra Suicide albums were released between 1986 and 1995, as well as a cd, Summer Virus Night, which documents live performances from their 1990 tour of Germany.

In 1991, Lydia became part owner of a club, The Lower Links, in Chicago, but had to sell out two years later, in 1993, also the year when she and Don divorced. Tongue Wrestling, released in 1994, was the last Algebra Suicide album, the band broke up in 1995. Lydia moved to the East Village/NYC, where she made the rounds of poetry readings and continued to write poetry and reportedly worked on a novel called Ugly Kids.

A solo album, Incorporated (1995) failed to make an impact, and Lydia’s drinking got out of control. As her health declined, she moved to Phoenix, Arizona to be near family, where she died in September 2007, aged 48.

info from Wikipedia and a March 2010 article in the Brooklyn Rail

gathered & processed by Cher Bibler

 

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