March 20, 2010, 11:21 am
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“Poet’s Work,” Lorine Niedecker

advised me:
Learn a trade

I learned
to sit at desk
and condense

No layoff
from this


Niedecker is perhaps my favorite of the poets working in the Objectivist movement, largely because she defies the canard that the rural or regional has no place in modernist poetry. The power of this poem, I think, is largely in her use of the term ‘condensery,’ which has a clear double function here: as signifier of collusion and careful amalgamation, but also as a factory where milk is produced; an image of physical and creative labor.