Tenth and Final Book: The Granite Pail, by Lorine Niedecker (edited by Cid Corman)

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Hello all!  I can’t believe I am posting my 10th book of the summer- I have wanted to complete one of these challenges for a long time, and just haven’t been able to maintain the focus in past efforts.  I think the key this summer was relieving some of the pressure by not creating unrealistic expectations, and allowing myself some short and sweet books to make up for longer, more intense reads.  And I cannot think of a better book to end on than this little treasure that I picked up at a very strange book “barn” on a little adventure with my teenaged son.

I was introduced to Lorine Niedecker through ModPo (surprise!), and had previously read quite a few of her poems through an on-line reading group- so I already knew that I was drawn to her work.  And Cid Corman (who edited this collection) is one of the reasons that I have fallen in love with modern poetry.  So, their combined energy in this book really drew me in.

Lorine’s poems are simple and elegant, and filled with ordinary, earthy moments.  The title poem is an example:

Remember my little granite pail?

The handle of it was blue.

Think what’s got away in my life—

Was enough to carry me thru.


And something about this one touched my heart, I read it over and over:


clean-smelling house

sweet cedar pink

flesh tint

I love you


Although many of Niedecker’s poems are tiny, I was delighted to find some extended works that touched on history and politics, such as this piece on Thomas Jefferson, which feels even more relevant with all of the present attention on Charlottesville, where Jefferson made his home.  It felt, in some ways, like a literary statue to the man, and I thought about the different ways that we can (and do) memorialize relevant figures in our society/culture/country.  We seem to be at a crossroads of remembering and forgetting, and there are so many complications to these characters and what they represent.

I intend to spend may more hours with this book- it is a bit like walking a favorite path at the beach or in the woods- simple and familiar, yet filled with delightful surprises.  Cid Corman mentions, in his Preface that “For her (Lorine), poetry was something each person had to read–say–get for himself or herself.  Quiet music.”

One last note of “quiet music” that really struck a chord, something about the way it sounds when read aloud:

Lights, lifts

parts nicely opposed

this white

lice lithe

pink bird


Thank you all for sharing this adventure with me– thank you Alison for organizing such a fine summer of reading!


1 comments on “Tenth and Final Book: The Granite Pail, by Lorine Niedecker (edited by Cid Corman)”

  1. I read The Granite Pail during our winter reading session! I loved it. I’m so glad to see you posting about it here 🙂

    Congratulations on being the only finisher of 10 books in 10 weeks! I’m so glad to have you here and hope you will join us again in the next adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

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