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Avant-Folk: Small Press Poetry Networks from 1950 to the Present$
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Ross Hair

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781781383292

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781383292.001.0001

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The Avant-Folkways of Lorine Niedecker

The Avant-Folkways of Lorine Niedecker

Chapter:
(p.35) Chapter One The Avant-Folkways of Lorine Niedecker
Source:
Avant-Folk: Small Press Poetry Networks from 1950 to the Present
Author(s):

Ross Hair

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781781383292.003.0002

This chapter examines the ‘avant-folkways’ of Lorine Niedecker and her poetry and demonstrates how Niedecker’s poetry of the 1940s and 1950s draws on various aspects of folk, including folk speech, nursery rhymes and ballads, local history, and artisanal and domestic craft practices. Niedecker’s folk sensibility, chapter 1 argues, was enhanced considerably by her work on the Federal Writers’ Project, from 1938 to 1941. Niedecker’s poetry, it is argued, undermines the dichotomies that underpin the pervasive ideological construction of American folk in the twentieth century—notions of the regional versus the cosmopolitan, the modern versus the traditional—as well as popular distinctions regarding ‘formal’ versus ‘folk’ poetry, art, and aesthetics. Chapter 1 also examines the social implications of Niedecker’s folkways and their defining role in her own ‘renaissance’ across the Atlantic, in England and Scotland, via the channels of small press networks in the 1960s that her own handmade gift books, it is argued, significantly prefigures.

Keywords:   Lorine Niedecker, folk poetry, regionalism, cosmopolitanism, handmade books

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