The Granite Pail Critical Essays

Lorine Niedecker


(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

In the editor’s note, Corman says that the poems in the section “My Friend Tree” were written under Zukofsky’s tutelage, and his reasons for making such an assertion are clear: These poems are marked by an adherence to the Objectivist mandate that poets think with “things as they exist.” Readers should not make the assumption, however, that Niedecker was motivated only by the Objectivist aesthetic when she wrote these poems; they are influenced also by Niedecker’s belief in the strength of minimalist expression, by her admiration of the lives and languages of those she called “common folk,” and by her experimentation in what could be characterized as American haiku. Three poems in this section that clearly illustrate Niedecker’s integration of Objectivist aesthetic principles with minimalist expression are “My Friend Tree,” “Along the river,” and the book’s title poem, “Remember my little granite pail.” The nine poems that close the “My Friend Tree” section of The Granite Pail are selected from a grouping Niedecker called “In Exchange for Haiku,” written between 1956 and 1958. These elegant pieces arise from Niedecker’s respect and admiration for the Oriental poetic tradition and foreshadow her movement toward a more considered integration of Objectivist and Surrealist elements.

Partly because of Corman’s desire to present Niedecker’s work chronologically, the poems in the “North Central” section of The Granite Pail are more mature and complex in content...

(The entire section is 627 words.)