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poetry circle

One Page Poetry Circle Archive


December, 2012.

Welcome back to the One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library!

Date: Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Time: 5:30 - 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor
Theme: Poetry and Repetition (pdf)

Please join us for an hour of authentic conversation about poetry through the examination of 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.

We will meet on December 11 to discuss Poetry and Repetition. Poetry is repetition - the repetition of sounds to form alliteration and rhyme, the repetition of rhythms to form meter, as well as the repetition of words, phrases, lines and ideas. Anaphora is repetition of a word or phrase at the start of successive clauses. In the second stanza of "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" Walt Whitman repeats the cry "O" at the start of each line and within them to express the narrator's overwhelming sorrow and dismay at the death of President Lincoln:

  • O powerful western fallen star!
  • O shades of night—O moody, tearful night!
  • O great star disappear'd—O the black murk that hides the star!
  • O cruel hands that hold me powerless—O helpless soul of me!
  • O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul.

Refrain, or the repetition of one or more lines, appears for emphasis in many highly structured poems like the villanelle and in ballads. The anonymously written nursery rhyme, "I Know an Old Lady" builds each verse, until the last, with a refrain of the first verse:

  • I know an old lady who swallowed a fly
  • I don't know why she swallowed the fly
  • Perhaps she'll die.
  • I know an old lady who swallowed a spider
  • That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her
  • She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
  • But I don't know why she swallowed the fly
  • Perhaps she'll die.
We invite you to bring a single page of poetry by a known author on the subject of Poetry and Repetition - with copies for others, if you can. To get started on your search, try poetryfoundation.org or poets.org.

We met on November 13 to discuss the theme of Poetry and Time. After the ravages of Hurricane Sandy, we were delighted to meet with our small but lively group.

Abigail began the evening by reading from Canto 1 of George Gordon, Lord Byron, epic, Don Juan which uses a story from an earlier play, "Now, like Friar Bacon's Brazen Head, I've spoken/"Time is, Time was, Time's past:"—a chymic treasure/Is glittering Youth, which I have spent betimes—/My heart in passion, and my head on rhymes."

Roger read James Leigh Hunt's "Rondel" with its apostrophe to time, "Time, you thief, who love to get/Sweets into your list, put that in!/Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,/Say that health and wealth have missed me,/Say I'm growing old, but add,/Jenny kissed me."

Phil countered the gloomy nature of the subject by bringing section XXI, "Time," from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran where he writes, "And is not time even as love is, undivided and paceless?/But if in your thought you must measure time into seasons, let each season encircle all the other seasons,/And let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing."

Stan read "Mean Time" by Carol Ann Duffy, the current Poet Laureate of the UK which begins plaintively: "The clocks slid back an hour/and stole light from my life/as I walked through the wrong part of town,/mourning our love."

Betsy read "Evil Time" by Hermann Hesse, "Give me your hand,/Perhaps we still have a long way to go./It's snowing, it's snowing./Winter is a hard thing in a strange country."

Kate read an excerpt from "Proverb" by Kenneth Koch which begins with the statement: "Les morts vont vite, the dead go fast, the next day absent!" and reflects: "The second after a moth's death there are one or two hundred other moths/The month after Einstein's death the earth is inundated with new theories/Biographies are written to cover up the speed with which we go."

Karen read the first W. S. Merwin poem brought to the circle, "Neither Here Nor There": "An airport is nowhere/which is not something/generally noticed/yet some unnamed person in the past/deliberately planed it/to be there."

AnnaLee read the second Merwin poem, "Something I've Not Done" in which he gives voice to a feeling we have all shared: "Something I've not done/is following me/I haven't done it again and again/so it has many footsteps/like a drumstick that's grown old and never been used."

We look forward to seeing you on December 11th to read and discuss poems that speak to you!

Mark your calendars for Spring 2013:
February 5
March 12
April 9
May 14

Bring a friend - all are welcome!


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 handicapped accessible.


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