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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Another MOOC ModPo Bonus Feature: "Foreclosure" by Lorine Niedecker

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present yet another MOOC ModPo bonus feature, "Foreclosure" by Lorine Niedecker (1903 - 1970).  A link to the poem may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/247082.  A brief biography and references may be found here:  http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/lorine-niedecker.

"Foreclosure" contains eight short lines of free verse arranged in three stanzas--a quatrain followed by two couplets.  The first two lines establish the bleakness of the home that is about to be foreclosed.  The walls are bare.  The abutments are not fancy--they are made of cement.  The third and fourth lines are a bitter jab at the lawyers and bankers involved in a foreclosure.  The obvious pun on clause/claws is referenced in the next stanza with the word "scratch" and is symbolic of the pain that is being caused.

The second stanza starts with "Leave me the land," a plea to allow the occupant of the house at least to keep the lot or perhaps the flowers and gardens that grow on it.  However, the meaning is changed with the line that follows, "Scratch out:  the land."  If "the land" is "scratch[ed] out" of the previous line, we are left simply with, "Leave me," another way of saying, "Get lost!"

The poem ends with a wish that "prose," here a metaphor for cold, dry legal writing, and "property," here perhaps a symbol for the injustices inherent in the capitalist system, would "die out" and leave the poet "in peace."  The alliteration between "prose" and "property" and "peace" is used for emphasis--to make the wish emphatic. 

MOOC ModPo Bonus Feature: "You are my friend" by Lorine Niedecker

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present a MOOC ModPo bonus feature, "You are my friend" by Lorine Niedecker (1903 - 1970).  A link to the poem may be found here:  http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/lorine-friend.html.  A brief biography and references may be found here:  http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/lorine-niedecker.


High Bush Cranberry
"You are my friend" contains ten short lines of irregular free verse.  The stanzas, with a line number pattern of 3-1-1-3-1-1, are arranged with an excess of white space between the second and third and the fifth and final stanzas.  The use of the extra white space for a poet known for "condensing" is unexpected and implies that much about the friendship described in the poem has been left unsaid.

The last two lines bear scrutiny.  To what does "it" refer in the penultimate line?  At first, it seems to refer back to "mending kit" in the line immediately prior, but that meaning does not jibe with the final line.  Accordingly, "it" must refer to the friendship itself, and "hand" must refer to the poet.

MOOC ModPo Poem of the Day: "Poet's Work" by Lorine Niedecker

The Songs of Eretz MOOC ModPo Poem of the Day for September 18, 2014 is "Poet's Work" by Lorine Niedecker (1903 - 1970) (pictured).  A link to the poem may be found here:  http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/poets-work.  A brief biography and references may be found here:  http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/lorine-niedecker.

"Poet's Work" contains twenty-one words including the title.  It is arranged in three tercets of free verse.  At first blush, except for an assonance between the words at the ends of the second and third lines of the second stanza, and the neologism "condensery" in the final stanza, there are no obvious poetic devices used.  In fact, the lack of poetic devices may be considered to be a poetic device in and of itself, and the poem an example of the "condensed" style for which Niedecker was known.  However, Niedecker did use irony here, even humor, to convey her message and story:   a poet, no matter how obscure and isolated, is at least not subject to being laid off.