Okt 31, 2012

A Thread on "Poet's Work"

DE— I also love how Niedecker's poem wants us to work as readers. We are pushed to do this through the line breaks, the spare meter, and words like "trade" and "condensery"

DE— What's intriguing for me is how a Dickinson poem almost immediately announces that it demands work: its hyphenated form, its capitalizations, its weird merging of the abstract (Possibility) and the concrete (House). But in Niedecker it's different. I have to admit that I was surprised to find Niedecker's "Grandfather advised me" among our poems for discussion because I remember reading it before and passing it over quickly because I thought I already understood it. But the threads here are amazing, and I discovered that, yes, I was young and lazy and now I have to put in more hours in this condensery! But what happy work.

AN— i like this reading about lorine niedecker/emily dickinson being somehow restrictive, selective. that desk does seem very forbidding, unlike the outdoors of whitman.

DE—Agreed. The conversation with the Grandfather also sounds locked (though visible): a long-standing argument with the dead and dying (but great/grand). Niedecker knows exactly where she is, what she wants to do. In this little diamond of a poem, she shows us the position of the poet, what it means to be a poet. But how about us readers? Where does this leave us? What is expected of us? I wish there was also a close reading of the poem toward this direction, and I believe it would be fruitful based on the following possible entrances:

1: Condensery does sound like a factory. The desk has more than one side. Are these possible set-ups for a consumer? A consulting client?

2: No lay-off. It has been explained that she employs herself. We could extend this to the point that she also consumes herself. Maybe it is not so solipsistic. What if "No lay-off" also asserts belief in an inexhaustible demand for what poetry offers?

3: The Grandfather as the first (and ultimate) reader.

3 komento:

Susan Scheid ayon kay ...

Ah, Dennis, how lovely to come back here to be reminded of Niedecker's condensery, that "little diamond of a poem," as you so aptly say. And I loved this, too, about your own experience of coming back to the poem: "But what happy work." I didn't know the poem until the class, and I wasn't sure what to make of it at first. I've found, since, that I keep coming back to that crystalline image of hers. I love your questioning about where we are as readers in relation to the poem, particularly this: “What if "No lay-off" also asserts belief in an inexhaustible demand for what poetry offers?”

PS: don't feel obligated in the least on this, but I've woven in a bit of Wallace Stevens in on the current post on my own blog. Nothing intelligent, like yours, just words, photos, and music. But perhaps fun. The link is here.

Dennis Aguinaldo ayon kay ...

Fun, truly! Dropped in and enjoyed myself, Susan!

Elizabeth ayon kay ...

First, I want to say I really enjoyed reading this, and other English sections of your blog.

Second, I would like to invite you and Genevieve to join a close reading blog that I am setting up, to continue discussing poetry beyond the end of ModPo. Would you be interested? You can contact me with a private Facebook message. I'm in the membership list on the Facebook group.