Lydia Tomkiw ‘Incorporated’

Lydia Tomkiw 'Incorporated' CD cover
Lydia Tomkiw 'Incorporated' CD inlay

First a poet, Lydia Tomkiw (1959-2007) was a familiar figure of poetry readings and slam sessions in various Chicago underground venues. During the 1980s, she published several poetry chapbooks (The Dreadful Swimmers and Popgun Sonatas, 1980), appeared in poetry journals (the Columbia Poetry Review #6) and anthologies (The Best American Poetry and New American Writing, both 1988). She met Don Hedeker during a gig of his band The Trouble Boys in 1980, and when they started their own duo in 1983, its name was lifted from one of Tomkiw’s poems. Algebra Suicide met with immediate success in the Chicago underground milieu and got international cult following, culminating in the band’s 1990 European tour.

Chicago’s Club Lower Links, founded 1985 by Leigh Jones and Michael Zerang (see googlemap location), was a key venue for Algebra Suicide’s performances and Lydia Tomkiw’s reading sessions. The club programmed free jazz (Hal Russell, Roscoe Mitchell and Steve Lacy, Evan Parker), experimental rock (The Effigies, Tom Cora, Hans Reichel) and slam sessions, or Spoken Word Thang (see handbill below). With various partners, Tomkiw bought the venue in 1991, but the club definitely closed in 1993. A regular poetry readings partner, Sharon Mesmer wrote a heart-wrenching obituary of Tomkiw on her blog in 2007.

Club Lower LinksWith Sharon Mesmer
With Bart PlantengaThe Popgun Sonatas chapbook
From l to r: Club Lower Links poetry reading handbill ;
poetry reading with Sharon Messmer at Paul Waggoner galery ;
the Popgun Sonatas chapbook, 1980 ;
with Bart Plantenga and Theo Dorian (bearded)

Published 1995, Incorporated was Tomkiw’s unique solo release and includes collaborations with various artists like Chuck Uchida (of No Empathy), Sosumi, Reality Scare, The Legendary Pink Dots, Martin Bowes (of Attrition) and Dirk Ivens (of Dive). Tomkiw and The Legendary Pink Dots met during the latter’s US tour and performance in Chicago in the 1990s. Pretty Something was later included in the Kollabris 2001 CD on Terminal Kaleïdoscope.

01  May I Take Your Order, Please? – w/ Chuck Uchida (3:24)
02  Delilah’s Ex – w/ Sosumi (3:57)
03 The Edge Of Things – w/ Chuck Uchida (4:13)
04 Iris – w/ Reality Scare (5:39)
05 Thief – w/ Reality Scare (5:32)
06 Hot June Evening – w/ Robert Coddington (4:46)
07 Sometimes… – w/ The Legendary Pink Dots (2:32)
08 Heartbeat – w/ Chuck Uchida (2:30)
09 From The Place Everyone Avoided – w/ Reality Scare (3:20)
10 Saturn Makes A Move – w/ Dirk Ivens (1:54)
11 Pretty Something – w/ The Legendary Pink Dots (3:05)
12 Strange Candy – w/ Martin Bowes (4:10)

Total time 44:55
CD released by Widely Distributed Records, USA, 1995


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10 Responses to “Lydia Tomkiw ‘Incorporated’”

  1. 1 Carl Howard November 23, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Her passing really shocked me. I know I am not the only one.

  2. 2 continuo November 23, 2010 at 1:15 pm


  3. 3 øשlqæda November 23, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    superb continuooooo. as owlwaze yer exquisite taste & generosity are appreciated in kind. lydia was a genius. rip

  4. 4 continuo November 23, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    For some reason, this CD is pretty hard to come by on this side of the Atlantic, compared to the regular AS releases.

  5. 5 Scott November 24, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Thanks my friend, I hope to see LPD someday, hopefully!

  6. 6 continuo November 24, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    They’re touring the US right now.

  7. 7 bart • wreck December 9, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    hello i’m not the bearded one! i’m the one with the mirror glasses. theo dorian my co-editor at Nice at the time is the bearded one. here is a review of their recent release SUMMER VIRUS NIGHT for which i wrote the liner notes… thanx for a nice post

    here is a playlist to my radio show dedicated to AS / Lydia:’s-algebraic-suicide/

    thanx again,


  8. 8 continuo December 9, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Sorry for the confusion, Bart. I corrected the post accordingly.
    Besides, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of facial hair.

  9. 9 Robert December 29, 2012 at 6:25 am

    I wrote “Hot June Evening” for Lydia’s album “Incorporated”. She was such a wonderful woman. She promoted my band PANTHERSAHIB with such zest. I miss her lovely soul.
    Robert Coddington

  10. 10 Ronald Pottol March 4, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    Any hope you can repost the album link, as it seems to be bad. Thanks for this.

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