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poetry circle

One Page Poetry Circle Archive


abigail burnham bloom's one page poetry circle

Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!

Date: Tuesday, April 13, 2021 Theme: Poetry and Seeds

Find a poem! Send a poem by email!

We're back for the thirteenth spring season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people examine the works of established poets. While there is no instructor and this is not a workshop for personal writing, once a month OPPC gives everyone a place to become teachers and learners to explore the form, content, language and meaning of poetry. Since the circle began, participants have selected and discussed 1292 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

This spring we will gather virtually, by email. We ask you to send us the poems you have selected on the subject of Poetry and Seeds by April 13th, with a comment on why you chose them. We'll share the poems with you through our blog and by email.

Our theme for April is Seeds.

The poet Marge Piercy describes her way of writing every day, "little grace notes of thanksgiving and praise and cursing during the day. The little poems of the day are simple, but sometimes in them comes a seed, a flash, that real word that summons real work." A seed is the start of something, whether it be a poem or a living organism.

William Wordsworth begins the second verse paragraph of his autobiographical epic, The Prelude, with these words, "Fair seed-time had my soul, and I grew up/Foster'd alike by beauty and by fear." In the poem he recounts those experiences that developed his mind and soul into those of a poet.

Robert Frost's sonnet "Putting in the Seed" evokes both human sexuality and plants bursting forth in spring:

  • You come to fetch me from my work to-night
  • When supper’s on the table, and we’ll see
  • If I can leave off burying the white
  • Soft petals fallen from the apple tree.
  • (Soft petals, yes, but not so barren quite,
  • Mingled with these, smooth bean and wrinkled pea;)
  • And go along with you ere you lose sight
  • Of what you came for and become like me,
  • Slave to a springtime passion for the earth.
  • How Love burns through the Putting in the Seed
  • On through the watching for that early birth
  • When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed,
  • The sturdy seedling with arched body comes
  • Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs.

Our theme for March was Poetry and Dirt.

Abigail was thinking of dirt as gossip and remembered Dorothy Parker's "Ballade of a Talk-Off Ear" with its "L'envoi": "Prince or commoner, tenor or bass,/Painter or plumber or never-do-well,/Do me a favor and shut your face/Poets alone should kiss and tell." Why should poets have this privilege? Perhaps because so much of what they say delights us; they "kiss and tell" not for the sensational news, but to render the actual into art.

Roger discovered "I am not Brave" by Dale Cozart which celebrates the beauty and persistence of plants emerging from the soil: "I am not brave like pilgrim bulbs,/though planted fifty years ago,/still sending offspring to the sky/determined in a hostile sphere."

Scott found Anne Sexton's "Hurry Up Please, It's Time" with its lines: "would you put her in a sack and bury her,/suck her down into the dumb dirt?/Some would./If not, time will." Scott enjoyed the adjective "dumb" applied to dirt, and commented that he was not familiar with Anne Sexton: "I guess that is part of the point of this group—to expose us to new poets and poems with which we are not familiar." Exactly!

Gail chose "The Air Smelled Dirty" by Marge Piercy "which vividly evokes a memory from her childhood, because I too grew up in a house with a scary unfinished basement (though not a coal-burning furnace)! The delightful word 'clinker' means the stony residue from burned coal." The poet describes how, "The fire glowed like a red eye through/the furnace door and the clinkers fell/loud and the shadows came at me as/mice scampered. The washing machine/was tame but the furnace was always hungry."

Stan sent Roger McGough's "Soil" that begins: "we've ignored each other for a long time/and I'm strictly an indoor man/anytime to call would be the wrong time/I'll avoid you as long as I can" and ends with almost the same words. Stan writes that "our relationship with soil changes as we grow older. As adults we might choose to stay indoors or live in a built-up city, so we interact with the soil only a little or not at all, but it's patiently waiting to commune with us eventually." Stan adds that the poet McGough hosts BBC Radio 4's "Poetry Please." He's also known in the UK for having been (along with Paul McCartney's brother Mike) a member of the band The Scaffold. Their hit record "Lily the Pink," with backing vocals by Elton John, Time Rice, and Graham Nash, topped the music charts in 1968.

Victoria thought of Gary Snyder's "Nature     Green Shit": "Why should dirt be dirty when you clean up./stop to like the dead or dying plants,/twisted witherd grass." She enjoyed that he links his images to specific places that are intimately familiar to him and notices tiny mundane details, "Why should dirt be considered dirty when it produces vegetables, flowers, seeds and grass, which sustain human life and are tended by human hands? The red lump of human flesh is no less dirty or clean that the dirt in which green things grow and die, and where flesh will end up one day as well."

Hazel remembered Percy Bysshe Shelley's "Ozymandias" which "concludes with a gripping description of sands, a kind of dirt. It's amazing what words can do to conjure up unforgettable images": "Nothing beside remains. Round the decay/Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,/The lone and level sands stretch far away."

Cate sent Francisco Aragón's "The Hike to Big Fountain: Granada," a response to the murder of the poet Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936) at the start of the Spanish Civil War—his body was thrown into an unmarked grave: "And no one really knows exactly/where—his final place. Better to ask/the dirt, this infamous patch of Spain." Cate comments: "In the context of his merciless death, I find the poem's water imagery powerful. Aside from the cypress, trees that are associated with mourning and immortality, absorbers of memory, the only concrete images connote some violence—the growling, hurling dogs and the cane, perhaps even the occupying Moors. Then, of course, 'this infamous patch,' the dirt as mute and dark as its history."

Jane sent "Map" by Linda Hogan. "This is the map of the forsaken world./This is the world without end/where forests have been cut away from their trees./These are the lines wolf could not pass over." The poem was featured in a recent poem-a-day podcast, in which upcoming Saturdays in March will be dedicated to poetry that explores Environmental Justice. "Map" was used as inspiration for this year's theme.

AnnaLee offered Lawrence Ferlinghetti's "Queens Cemetery, Setting Sun," in which the poet uses New York City to remind us of the gritty layers of lifetimes built upon those who came before, and that all—no matter who or what—will eventually return to earthy origins. The poem begins: "Airport bus from JFK/cruising through Queens/passing huge endless cemetery/by Long Island's old expressway/(once a dirt path for wheelless Indians)." On February 22, 2021, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet, painter, social activist, and co-founder of City Lights bookstore and press died at 101. Read an interview with him at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2013/01/lawrence-ferlinghetti-interviewed-at-interview

Whether a poem is about seeds of any sort or the start of something, choose a poem that has meaning to you. Then email it to one of us by April 13th, with a brief comment of why you chose it. Can't locate a poem you want to send? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

In the meantime, please blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Spring 2021 Schedule
April 13: Seeds
May 11: Freedom

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com


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