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poetry circle

One Page Poetry Circle Archive


February, 2012.

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

Date: Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Time: 5:30 - 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor
Theme: Poetry and Celestial Bodies (pdf)

Join us for an hour of authentic conversation about poems by established poets. There is no instructor and this is not a workshop for personal poems. Once a month OPPC gives everyone a place to become teachers and learners as we explore the form, content, language and meaning of poetry. Come with a poem to read by a known poet. Bring copies for others if you can.

On February 14, OPPC will gather to discuss Poetry and Celestial Bodies. We were thinking of the sun, moon, planets and stars, but we also won't object to paeans to beautiful people. The poet Praxilla, a woman writing in the 5th century BC, is famous for the following fragment of poetry, in which Adonis answers the shades of the dead who want to know what he misses most in the world:

             First of all the things I have left is the light of the sun,
             Next to that the brilliant stars and the face of the moon,
             Cucumbers in their season, too, and apples and pears. (trans. Bernard Knox)

The fragment survives because another writer quotes it to reveal the silliness of Praxilla's juxtaposition of cucumbers with the celestial bodies. Yet the poem is beautiful for we need the light of the sun to survive and we enjoy the food that the seasons bring.

Our January 10th OPPC met to consider Poetry and Murder.

Abigail started us off with Edgar Lee Masters "Amanda Barker" from Spoon River Anthology. This narrator proclaims from the dust that her husband "slew me to gratify his hatred."

Roger chose to read from Oscar Wilde's "The Ballad of Reading Gaol." We discussed the complicated meaning of the repeated thought "each man kills the thing he loves."

Hazel said that although murder usually applies to the killing of a human, she was intrigued by the Mariner's murder of the albatross in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner": "And I had done a hellish thing,/And it would work 'em woe:/For all averred, I had killed the bird/That made the breeze to blow."

Anne read Emily Dickinson's "I Felt a Cleaving in My Mind" which begins, "I felt a Cleaving in my Mind--/As if my Brain had split--/I tried to match it-Seam by Seam-/But could not make it fit."

Otto read from Walt Whitman's "O Captain! My Captain!," a metaphoric poem that describes the death of President Lincoln and which ends: "Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!/But I, with mournful tread,/Walk the deck my Captain lies,/Fallen cold and dead."

Phil read Robert Graves' poem, "The Assault Heroic" with its horrific description of World War I's trench warfare. This poem ends with the terrifying words, "Wake up, sir! Here's a new/Attack! Stand to! Stand to!"

Larry read Ai's "The Kid" which describes the murder of a family by a fourteen year old, "I stand beside him, waiting, but he doesn't look up/and I squeeze the rod, raise it, his skill splits open." This poem sparked a discussion of morality and poetry: whether a poet has an obligation to take a moral stand and whether a poem that offends one's own sense of morality can be considered a good poem.

Betsy read Robert Lowell's "Death of Anne Boleyn" which was open to many spectators - because of "the King's abundance/the scene was open to any Englishman."

We are always surprised by how infrequently two people bring the same poem. At this meeting AnnaLee also brought "The Ballad of Reading Gaol." Happily Abigail had brought a second poem by Edgar Lee Masters and AnnaLee read "Barry Holden" which describes the events ("She started the talk of the mortgaged farm") that led up to his killing his wife.

Mark your calendars for spring 2012:

February 14: Celestial Bodies
March 13: Six Senses
April 17: Boredom
May 8: Couplet, Triplet and Quatrain


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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