“Bleach[ed] Brotherhood”: Race, Consumer Advertising, and Lorine Niedecker’s Lyric

Elizabeth Savage, Fairmont State University
Vol. 28, No. 2 (Fall 2009), 291-313

Lorine Niedecker’s poems from the mid-twentieth century register collaboration among political, consumer, and literary discourses that protect a shared vision of U.S. American racial identity as “white understood.” This essay examines two poems, “The clothesline post is set” and “When brown folk lived a distance,” within the context of popular advertising and modernist poetics and concludes Niedecker’s work not only hinders the production of whiteness but also undermines the lyric’s optimistic promise of transcendence. The poems’ critique of racial assumptions attending the modernist lyric offers as well a more complex sense of Niedecker’s use of folk speech in the development of her objectivist poetics.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]