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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, March 10, 2015
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor
Theme: Poetry and Red (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 803 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

The theme for March is red, a color found on the far end of the visible spectrum. Red is associated with everything from virtue to sin, from safety to danger. In Christianity red is associated with both the Blood of Christ and the Whore of Babylon. Poetic references to the color include such diverse items as politics, the sun, birds, anger, fiery beards, tresses, and poppies.

In the haiku-like stanzas of “Red Beans” the poet Victor Hernández Cruz treats us to servings of red beans and white rice. On one plate iron-colored beans are ringed by hills of white rice. In another the red of the gravy becomes the lava seeping through a field of white rice. The poem ends in a vision of red beans and milk mixing to make a delicate burgundy. Is Cruz speaking about a beautiful hot and fiery mixing of peoples?

  • Next to white rice
  • it looks like coral
  • sitting next to snow
  • Hills of starch
  • border
  • The burnt sienna
  • of irony
  • Azusenas being chased by
  • the terra cotta feathers
  • of a rooster
  • There is a lava flow
  • through the smoking
  • white mounds
  • India red
  • spills on ivory
  • Ochre cannon balls
  • falling
  • next to blanc pebbles
  • Red beans and milk
  • make burgundy wine
  • Violet pouring
  • from the eggshell
  • tinge of the plate.

The beloved poet Robert Burns uses red as an expression of deep emotion in this excerpt from his 1794 song, “A Red, Red Rose”:

  • O my Luve’s like a red, red rose
  • That’s newly sprung in June;
  • O my Luve’s like the melodie
  • That’s sweetly play’d in tune.
  • As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
  • So deep in luve am I:
  • And I will luve thee still, my dear,
  • Till a’ the seas gang dry:

In Burns’ famous lines the speaker boasts of his undying love, aligning this with the eternities of nature. At the same time the image of the “red, red rose” indicates the spring of love, which must, like the flower, fade in the fall. An interesting note: Bob Dylan selected this as the poem that had the greatest impact on his life.

We met on February 10th to discuss poetry about everyday things. We enjoyed the good turnout after so much winter weather, and how so many poets we read made the everyday seem exceptional.

Abigail began by reading William Allingham’s “Writing” in which the narrator explains why our shelves (and e-readers) are filled with books about human struggles. The poem ends with “Most books, indeed are records less/Of fulness than of emptiness.” We are thankful for the time artists have to write!

Roger read “The Common Cold,” an Ogden Nash poem he had loved in high school. Through a series of inventive and humorous rhymes about a typical malady, the poem builds towards ironic understatements: “A common cold, gadzooks, forsooth!/Ah, yes. And Lincoln was jostled by Booth;/Don Juan was a budding gallant,/And Shakespeare’s plays show signs of talent.”

Hazel read Christopher Morley’s “Animal Crackers,” which she described as comic until the ending when the child observes that the parent longs for a carefree life like his: “And Daddy once said, he would like to be me/Having cocoa and animals once more for tea.”

Phil read “Horses and Men in Rain,” a many layered poem in which Carl Sandburg shows us a man warming himself by a steam radiator and writing of heroic knights in search of the Holy Grail, while outside men toil in wet frigid weather to make a living, their shelter (caravanserai) “a gray blur in slant of rain”. . . “Let us nudge the steam radiator with our wool slippers and write poems of Launcelot, the hero,/and Roland, the hero, and all the olden golden men who rode horses in the rain.”

Gale read “Things” by Lisel Mueller in which the narrator considers the ways humans have projected their image on the objects around them, creating metaphors everywhere. “What happened is, we grew lonely/living among the things,/so we gave the clock a face,/the chair a back,/the table four stout legs/which will never suffer fatigue.”

Latrina read her own prize-winning poem, “What is a Mother,” which looks at the ideal but concludes that a mother “is someone who loves/her kids and herself and be/the best mom she can be/that’s what a good mother is/to me.”

Marilyn read “To the Sun” by Ingeborg Bachmann, which embellishes the ordinary with mystery and radiance: “Beautiful light, which keeps us warm, sustains and marvelously ensures/That I see again, and that I see you again!/Nothing more beautiful under the sun than to be under the sun.”

Terry read “Hanging Fire” by Audre Lorde documenting an adolescent girl's longing for parental guidance, “There is nothing I want to do/and too much/that has to be done/and momma’s in the bedroom/with the door closed.”

Mady read Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to a pair of socks,” from his book, Odes to Common Things. The poem celebrates the beauty of an everyday article of clothing especially when it fulfills its purpose: “beauty is beauty/twice over/and good things are doubly/good/when you’re talking about a pair of wool/socks/in the dead of winter.”

Ellen read “To an Ant Fallen in the Salt Shaker” by Andrea Cohen in which the narrator addresses the ant by saying that if he had fallen into the sugar bowl, he would have drowned anyway, “But the aftertaste is long/and might have been less stinging.”

AnnaLee brought the poetry circle full circle with Pat Schneider’s “The Patience of Ordinary Things” which shows us the majesty in commonplace things if only we take the time to look, “And towels drink the wet/From the skin of the back./And the lovely repetition of stairs./And what is more generous than a window?”

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

We look forward to reading and discussing your selections for our next program, Poetry and Red, on March 10th.

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

Schedule for the spring:

March 10: Poetry and Red
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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