Form and Content
The Granite Pail: The Selected Poems of Lorine Niedecker, edited by Cid Corman, presents an intriguing, if somewhat familiar, picture of Niedecker as a highly autobiographical poet whose primary concern is that which occurs in the domestic realm. Much of the work in this text focuses on the experiences of a female poet living on Blackhawk Island in rural Wisconsin; it tends to be devoid of the political concerns that critic Jenny Penberthy has argued are the source of many of Niedecker’s lesser-known poems. The poet whom Corman reveals understands the complex way in which humans coexist with their environments, observing and rendering them in the language of experience and intellect. His Niedecker is thoughtful and fully engaged in the world around her, and though these “domestic,” autobiographical poems are sometimes characterized as mere local color pieces, they tend to be highly learned. Several of the poems commonly considered Niedecker’s best—poems that reveal the poet’s strong interest and extensive reading in science, philosophy, Oriental poetry, and biography—are among those included in The Granite Pail.
Niedecker began her poetic career as a student of the Surrealists and ended it working toward an aesthetic theory she called “reflectivism,” but the largest portion of her work shows great respect for the Objectivist ideals that Louis Zukofsky set forth in the February, 1931, issue of Poetry magazine....
(The entire section is 558 words.)