Photo by Crystal Jo on Unsplash


the alliance– ships and plants

The take-for-granted bloom of our roadsides Queen Anne’s Lace Black-Eyed Susans rode the sea

‘Specimens graciously passed between warring fleets’

And when an old boat rots ashore itself once living plant

it sprouts

Lorine Niedecker

Photo by Steve Mushero on Unsplash

I love the simplicity of this poem, like an observation the poet might have made on a walk or when encountering an old boat rotting on a shore. Maybe an extension of a journal jotting or Niedecker’s love of nature. Queen Anne’s Lace was one of the first flowers I remember learning about on an evening walk when I was younger. I thought it was so beautiful that I didn’t believe my mother when she said it was a weed.

How many times have you had those random thoughts and never penned them to paper?

The everyday ordinariness of Niedecker’s language has always spoken to me. When I first read her poems, I fell in love with the simplicity, the folksy midwest Americana, the sense of place. No extra words. Her ability to “condense” a poem is a skill I admire. And I believe a skill she admired in herself as she also wrote an often-referenced poem for poets, Poet’s Work. Can you see the influence that Japanese and Chinese poets had in her work?

Consider at the outset:
to be thin for thought
or thick cream blossomy

Many things are better
flavored with bacon

Sweet Life, My love:
didn’t you ever try
this delicacy–the marrow
in the bone?

And don’t be afraid
to pour wine over cabbage

Lorine Niedecker

In both of these poems, I love the poet’s voice; I trust it and want to know more about the “story” behind the finished pieces. And I wonder who the poet is talking to in the second piece. The choice of language, the conversational way Niedecker slips in “many things are better flavored with bacon” and “And don’t be afraid to pour wine over cabbage.” Is it found poetry from a cookbook or newspaper? Every stanza is rich with a “good food” reference.

Today, can you start with a journal entry or a blank page and begin a poem or a prose piece with “Consider.” Use the directive voice and include an element from the natural world.

Now get back to work!


The Writing Nag

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