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poetry circle

One Page Poetry Circle Archive


one page poetry circle

Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!

Date: Tuesday, March 9, 2021 Theme: Poetry and Dirt

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 1281 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 Dirt by March 9th, with a comment on why you chose them. We'll share the poems with you through our blog and by email.

Our theme for March is Dirt. John Keats writes about the interconnection of beauty and the natural world in "On the Grasshopper and Cricket," summarized is its famous first line:

  • The Poetry of earth is never dead:
  •   When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
  •   And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
  • From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
  • That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead
  •  In summer luxury,—he has never done
  •  With his delights; for when tired out with fun
  • He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
  • The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
  •  On a lone winter evening, when the frost
  •    Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
  • The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
  •   And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
  •    The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

In "Ode to Dirt" the poet Sharon Olds addresses dirt and apologizes for not realizing its stature as an equal and a creator:

  • Dear dirt, I am sorry I slighted you,
  • I thought that you were only the background
  • for the leading characters—the plants
  • and animals and human animals.
  • It’s as if I had loved only the stars
  • and not the sky which gave them space
  • in which to shine. Subtle, various,
  • sensitive, you are the skin of our terrain,
  • you’re our democracy. When I understood
  • I had never honored you as a living
  • equal, I was ashamed of myself,
  • as if I had not recognized
  • a character who looked so different from me,
  • but now I can see us all, made of the
  • same basic materials—
  • cousins of that first exploding from nothing—
  • in our intricate equation together. O dirt,
  • help us find ways to serve your life,
  • you who have brought us forth, and fed us,
  • and who at the end will take us in
  • and rotate with us, and wobble, and orbit.

Our theme for February was Poetry and Healing.

Abigail recalled the healing power of nature established in Dante Gabriel Rossetti's "The Woodspurge": "From perfect grief there need not be/Wisdom or even memory:/One thing then learnt remains to me,-/The woodspurge has a cup of three."

Scott wrote that he heard e.e. cummings give a lecture series at Harvard: "He told mostly autobiographical tales, interspersed with readings of his poems and poems that he loved. One that he chose that has stayed with me is the closing lines of Percy Bysshe Shelley's 'Prometheus Unbound.'" The narrator describes that love "from the slippery, steep/And narrow verge of crag-like agony, springs/and folds over the world its healing wings"; the final stanza contains the famous lines, "To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates/From its own wreck the thing it contemplates."

Roger found "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver which describes the peace of the natural world and our place within it: "Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,/the world offers itself to your imagination,/calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — /over and over announcing your place/in the family of things."

Gail sent "Talk" by Kwame Dawes, a poet dedicated to the playwright August Wilson. "His poem speaks directly to the explosive protests for racial justice of the past year. Dawes suggests that first 'our hearts [must] flow with the warm healing of anger' before we can 'learn the healing of talk, the calming of quarrel.'"

Hazel sent "Good Night" by Kürner because she "does believe that sleep is a magical healer of so many things": "Eden's breezes round ye sweep./O'er the peace-forsaken lover/Let the darling image hover,/As he lies in transport deep./Sweetly sleep!"

Carol sent Pablo Neruda's "Keeping Quiet." With his caution "For once on the face of the earth/let's not speak in any language,/let's stop for one second,/and not move our arms so much," Carol feels he teaches us "to be present in the moment, to listen to the earth, nature, one's self, to stop the endless churning, the running around with multiple distractions: just what COVID has forced us all to do on one level or another. See how difficult it is to just stand still, count to twelve?"

Christiana sent Walt Whitman's "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer" published in 1867 and printed in its entirety here. "It's uncanny how appropriate the healing theme is for this February," she writes. "I am submitting this short Walt Whitman classic that strikes my fancy as relating in its own way to our theme. At this point, I've had my fill of hearing the civics and the science, and taking a quiet moment to just look up feels therapeutic to me."

  • When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
  • When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
  • When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
  • When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-
  • How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
  • Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
  • In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
  • Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Cate introduced us to artist and poet LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs. Her concrete poem, "the originator," begins: "here's the remedy for your chronic whiplash -." Cate wrote, "It's a villanelle that combines hip hop with a really old structure … there's hope for reconciliation or understanding or, at the very least, experiencing difference. The jazzy language, and references to expressions of sound, barreling down the villanelle infrastructure are remedial, just as the poem's first line promises. To feel even better, read it aloud … fast!"

AnnaLee chose Norman Dubie's "February: The Boy Breughel," writing, "I am fascinated by the way the poet creates a Breughel painting using words and vivid impressions as his brush." In these opening lines the natural world hangs in the balance while awaiting spring's healing sun: "The birches stand in their beggar's row:/Each poor tree/Has had its wrists nearly/Torn from the clear sleeves of bone,/These icy trees/Are hanging by their thumbs/Under a sun/That will begin to heal them soon."

Whether a poem is about dirt of any kind, choose a poem that has meaning to you. Then email it to one of us by March 9th, 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
March 9: Dirt
April 13: Seeds
May 10: Freedom

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


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