‘Poet’s work’ a poem by Lorine Niedecker

Do you remember the first bit of career advice you received from a grown-up? Poet Lorine Niedecker captured the advice given to her and her subsequent career choice in ‘Poet’s Work’ this week’s Friday Poem. “She is admired for the subtlety of her tightly crafted, nuanced and deliciously ironic poems, as well as for her total devotion to her calling.”

The biographical summary on the Poetry Foundation site describes the work of this twentieth century rural Wisconsin poet.

“Niedecker’s verse is praised for its stark, vivid imagery, subtle rhythms, and spare language…Concerned with the distillation of images and thoughts into concise expression, Niedecker described her work as a “condensery,” and several critics have compared her poetry to the delicate yet concrete verse of Chinese and Japanese writers. Although Niedecker’s long correspondence with Louis Zukofsky, who frequently submitted her poems to the journal, Origin, and contact with such respected writers as Cid Corman and Basil Bunting, brought her some critical notice, her work was generally overlooked until late in her life. Since her death in 1970, several critics have identified Niedecker as a significant and original voice in contemporary American poetry.”

Poet’s work

Grandfather
advised me:
Learn a trade

I learned
to sit at desk
and condense

No layoff
from this
condensery

A complete collection of her work was published by The University of California Press in 2004.

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