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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, May 6: Poetry and Birds
Time: 5:30 - 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor
Theme: Poetry and Birds (pdf)

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

Please come 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.

Join the circle on May 6 to discuss Poetry and Birds.

Birds have long been an inspiration to poets, perhaps because, like poets, they sing: Percy Bysshe Shelley refers to a skylark, "Like a Poet hidden/In the light of thought." Birds and poets have the ability to defy gravity and soar above the earth: John Keats seeks to fly with a nightingale on "the viewless wings of Poesy."

With a topic so rich as birds, it may be difficult to select just one poem. In "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," Wallace Stevens's strange title seems to say that there is no finite number of ways to view a blackbird. The author gives us thirteen, an odd number, because he knows there are many, many more.

Stevens begins with an all-seeing blackbird:

  • I
  • Among twenty snowy mountains,
  • The only moving thing
  • Was the eye of the blackbird.

After a few stanzas he wonders about his many options:

  • V
  • I do not know which to prefer,
  • The beauty of inflections
  • Or the beauty of innuendoes,
  • The blackbird whistling
  • Or just after.

He ends with the persistent blackbird:

  • XIII
  • It was evening all afternoon.
  • It was snowing
  • And it was going to snow.
  • The blackbird sat
  • In the cedar-limbs.

EVERYONE’S WELCOME to bring a single page of poetry by a known author related to the subject of Poetry and Birds—with copies for others, if you can. To get started on your search, try poetryfoundation.org or poets.org.

And in between meetings please visit our blog to discuss these poems or anything about poetry: onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com

On April 8 attendees gathered to read and discuss poems about Poetry and Journeys. Abigail began the evening by reading “Funicular Railway” by Roger McGough which describes the reaction of the tourists as they are suspended over the landscape by a power failure, “Like the/muzzle of a mincing machine, the station waits/to chew you up and spit out the grizzly bits into the silver kidney bowl of Lake Como.”

Roger read “Crossing the Bar” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson in which the poet describes the journey from life to death, “And may there be no moaning of the bar,/When I put out to sea.” What the author meant by the “moaning of the bar” presented the first puzzle of the evening.

Hazel read “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” by William Butler Yeats. The poet describes the peacefulness of the area and remembers the sound of water on the shore, “While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,/I hear it in the deep heart’s core.”

Gail read “Over a cup of coffee” by Stephen Dobyns in which the narrator recalls an incident from the past, “And/although he had no sense of being on a journey,/such memories made him realize how far he had/traveled.” We enjoyed discuss the nature of memory together.

Betsy read W.S. Merwin’s “Road,” complete here:

  • In early snow
  • going to see a friend
  • I pass thousands of miles of fences.

Written in so few lines, the meaning of this poem cannot be stated easily, but it evokes memories for the reader.

Carolyn read “Odysseus,” another Merwin poem, which shows us a more human way to look at the journey of the great hero of The Odyssey. “The knowledge of all that he betrayed/Grew till it was the same whether he stayed/Or went. Therefore he went.”

Maddy read Stanley Kunitz’s “The Layers” with its enigmatic advice, “Live in the layers,/not on the litter.” Even if we couldn’t agree on what he meant, everyone enjoyed discussing it.

Erica read T. S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi” which recounts that long, difficult journey, “The ways deep and the weather sharp,/The very dead of winter.” Erica said that she hadn’t understood the poem when she first read it, but that some of the difficulties had become clearer when she read it over again. We often find we add to our knowledge of a poem by talking about it together.

AnnaLee read Theodore Roethke’s description of a train trip in “Night Journey.” The narrator lies in a Pullman berth, looking out the window. “I stay up half the night/To see the land I love.”

We look forward to seeing old friends and new on May 6 to discuss Poetry and Birds. This is the last poetry circle until the fall.

May 6: Poetry and Birds

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

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.

  • Whan that April with his showres soote
  • The droughte of March hath perced to the roote,
  • And bathed every veine in swich licour,
  • Of which vertu engendred is the flowr;

Make the pilgrimage this April to join us at the One Page Poetry Circle!

EVERYONE’S WELCOME to bring a single page of poetry by a known author related to the subject of Poetry and Journeys—with copies for others, if you can. To get started on your search, try poetryfoundation.org or poets.org.

And in between meetings please visit our blog to discuss these poems or anything about poetry: onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com

On March 11 attendees gathered to read and discuss poems about Hunger and Thirst. Abigail began the evening by reading Ann Hawkshaw’s “The Mother to Her Starving Child,” describing the horror of a child dying a preventable death: “I might have born it if disease/Had changed thee thus, and only wept,/As others oft have wept before.”

Roger read Emily Dickinson’s poem which begins, “I had been hungry all the years;/My noon had come, to dine;/I trembling, drew the table near,/And touched the curious wine.” a poem in which the narrator uses hunger to describe a longing that when fulfilled, loses its importance.

Hazel read Carl Sandburg’s “Soup.” The narrator sees a famous man whose name is in the headlines, “He sat bending his head over a plate/Putting soup in his mouth with a spoon.” This simple vignette contrasts fame with the ordinariness of life.

Gail read “Vespers” by Louise Gluck in which the narrator rails against nature as the winter season sets in, “Once I believed in you; I planted a fig tree./Here, in Vermont, country/of no summer. It was a test: if the tree lived,/it would mean you existed.”

Betsy read Stanley J. Sharpless’s “In Praise of Cocoa, Cupid’s Nightcap,” describing the aphrodisiacal qualities of cocoa on a couple in bed, “Rapt beneath the tumbled bedclothes,/Cocoa coursing through their veins.”

Trina read a poem that sparked a discussion about whether a woman (or man for that matter) ever stops developing into her (or his) true self.

Erica delighted us by reciting Lewis Carroll’s “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” which ends with the Carpenter asking the oysters a question, “But answer came there none—/And this was scarcely odd, because/They’d eaten every one.”

We laughed to find that AnnaLee had brought the same poem as Roger. In all the years OPPC has been meeting, members have brought the same poem only a few times. This is surprising. You’d think it would happen more often, but the body of poetry is vast. When it does happen, OPPC members add more to the understanding of the poem, showing us that a good poem has many layers of richness waiting to be teased out.

We always wonder what poems will be read, what new poems will be introduced and what poems we’ll revisit in a new context. We look forward to seeing old friends and new on April 8 to discuss Poetry and Journeys. Mark your calendars for spring 2014:

April 8: Poetry and Journeys
May 6: Poetry and Birds

Bring a friend and widen the circle!

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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