Thursday, April 17, 2008

Turning the world off early



Have been thinking a lot about the 'objectivists' recently: George Oppen, Louis Zukovsky, Charles Reznikoff, Carl Rakosi, Lorine Niedecker, and am working on a review of The Poems of Charles Reznikoff 1918-1975 edited by Seamus Cooney, a book I can’t recommend highly enough. The review is for a Belfast magazine but I intend to post a more expanded version here, if I ever finish it. In the meantime, I can’t help quoting from Lorine Niedecker: Collected Works, edited by Jenny Penberthy, which the long-suffering postman has just brought to the door. They’re all from ‘New Goose’, like much of her work a series of small poems ‘separated by stars to save paper’. We should all be so frugal of paper and gesture:


For sun and moon and radio
farmers pay dearly;
their natural resource: turn
the world off early.

*

Mr. Van Ess bought 14 washcloths?
Fourteen washrags, Ed Van Ess?
Must be going to give em
to the church, I guess.

He drinks, you know. The day we moved
he came into the kitchen stewed,
mixes things up for my sister Grace –
put the spices in the wrong place.

*

The clothesline post is set
yet no totem-carvings distinguish the Niedecker tribe
from the rest; every seventh day they wash:
worship sun; fear rain, their neighbor’s eyes;
raise their hands from ground to sky,
and hang or fall by the whiteness of their all.

*

I think of a tree
to make it
last.


3 comments:

puthwuth said...

I like the section from 'Jerusalem the Golden' in which a cat vomits and Reznikoff comments 'He has added a leaf to the garden.'

The Cat Flap said...

How did I miss that?

Laura said...

It's been a long while since I've read Neidecker. Thanks for the reminder.

Here's one of her poems that I especially like.

Poet's work

Grandfather
advised me:
Learn a trade

I learned
to sit at desk
and condense

No layoff
from this
condensery