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poetry circle

One Page Poetry Circle Archive


Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library!
Date: Tuesday, April 15, 2015
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor
Theme: Lyric Poetry (pdf)

Find a poem! Read a poem! Discuss a poem!

We’re back for the seventh season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people gather to examine the works of established poets. While there’s 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 started, participants have selected and discussed 811 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

The theme for April is Lyric Poetry, one of the three general categories of poetry, along with narrative and dramatic. Lyric poetry, with its origins in musical expression, retains the harmonious tone even though no longer recited by a bard with a lyre. Lyric poems are personal and sensual, often with repeated sound patterns. The poet Lascelles Abercrombie wrote: “a poet does not compose in order to make of language delightful and exciting music; he composes a delightful and exciting music in language in order to make what he has to say peculiarly efficacious in our minds.” Most poetry written by the nineteenth century Romantic poets, as well as that of Housman and Yeats, is lyric and describes the feelings of a first-person narrator. Modernist poets of the early twentieth century, like Pound, Eliot and Williams, rejected the lyric as lacking in complexity of thought, while later in the century confessional poets, such as Plath and Sexton, rekindled the tradition.

Rondel, villanelle, ode and elegy are examples of lyric forms, as is Ben Jonson’s sonnet “On My First Son” (1616):

  • Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
  • My sin was too much hope of thee, lov’d boy.
  • Seven years tho’ wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
  • Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
  • O, could I lose all father now! For why
  • Will man lament the state he should envy?
  • To have so soon ‘scap’d world’s and flesh’s rage,
  • And if no other misery, yet age?
  • Rest in soft peace, and, ask’d, say, “Here doth lie
  • Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry.”
  • For whose sake henceforth all his vows be such,
  • As what he loves may never like too much.

In Marilyn Hacker’s rondel, “Rondeau after a Transatlantic Telephone Call,” the poet repeats the same phrase three times, each time varying and deepening the meaning.

  • Love, it was good to talk to you tonight.
  • You lather me like summer though. I light
  • up, sip smoke. Insistent through walls comes
  • the downstairs neighbor’s double-bass. It thrums
  • like toothache. I will shower away the sweat,
  • smoke, summer, sound. Slick, soapy, dripping wet,
  • I scrub the sharp edge off my appetite.
  • I want: crisp toast, cold wine prickling my gums,
  • love. It was good
  • imagining around your voice, you, late-
  • awake there. (It isn’t midnight yet
  • here.) This last glass washes down the crumbs.
  • I wish that I could lie down in your arms
  • and, turned toward sleep there (later), say, “Goodnight,
  • love, It was good.”

We met on March 10th to discuss poetry involving the color red. We had never chosen a color as a theme before and didn’t know how it would turn out. Some people found it difficult to select a poem, but we loved the poems read.

Abigail began with Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal” which involves a Victorian, and therefore subtle, depiction of passion as represented by the crimson petal, “Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves/A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.”

Roger read “Alone” by Edgar Allan Poe describing an adult looking back on his earlier self, “From childhood’s hour I have not been/As others were—I have not seen/As others saw.” Poe sees the demon from the red cliff while others see the blue of Heaven.

Gail read Anne Stevenson’s “To My Daughter in a Red Coat,” “You come so fast, so fast./You violate the past,/My daughter, as your coat dances.” Stevenson depicts the whirl of the coat against a background of fallen brown leaves and old women on park benches.

Anne read Marcia F. Brown’s “Pomegranate” with its sensual description of the inside of the luscious fruit: “near-pulsing jewels—a red/like blood or love/that suddenly exists/for you alone.”

Ellen read Roald Dahl’s “Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf.” In this version of the fairy tale the heroine ends up in quite different apparel, “No silly hood upon her head./She said, ‘Hello, and do please note/My lovely furry wolfskin coat.’”

Ralda read “She at His Funeral” by Thomas Hardy in which the female narrator watches others at her sweetheart’s funeral in proper funeral attire, “But they stand round with griefless eye,/Whilst my regret consumes like fire!”

AnnaLee completed the circle with Linda Hogan’s “The History of Red,” which takes us on a journey of multiple creations using images of the primordial color red, “and then the human clay/whose blood we still carry/rose up in us/who remember caves with red bison/painted in their own blood./after their kind.”

Larry posted Gillian Clarke’s “The Rothko Room” on our blog. This poem describes the effect of the paintings in this museum where “The Indian keeper nods to sleep, marooned/in a trapezium of black on red.”

To read more about poetry, check out our blog on all things having to do with poetry, onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

We look forward to reading and discussing your selections for our next program, Lyric, on April 14th.

Bring a friend and widen the circle! And remember to blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com. Don’t be shy.

Spring Schedule:

April 14: Lyric Poetry
May 12: Poetry and Health

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.


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