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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 12, 2015
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor
Theme: Poetry and Health (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 813 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

When we approached May’s theme, Poetry and Health, we wondered why we’d chosen what seemed a dreary subject for the merry month. A little research rewarded us with a variety of poems that were rich in irony, humor, sarcasm, madness, longing, even vigor.

Within the older tradition, Dorothy Wordsworth’s plaintive words from 1835 recall what she misses while ill. Dorothy was the sister of the poet William and more known for her journals than her poetry.

  • When shall I tread your garden path?
  • Or climb your sheltering hill?
  • When shall I wander, free as air,
  • And track the foaming rill?
  • A prisoner on my pillowed couch
  • Five years in feebleness I’ve lain,
  • Oh! shall I e’er with vigorous step
  • Travel the hills again?

Here, in the opening tercets of “Progressive Health,” the poet Carl Dennis sets a darkly humorous stage for organ donations and the pleas to raise contributions.

  • We here at Progressive Health would like to thank you
  • For being one of the generous few who’ve promised
  • To bequeath your vital organs to whoever needs them.
  • Now we’d like to give you the opportunity
  • To step out far in front of the other donors
  • By acting a little sooner than you expected,
  • Tomorrow, to be precise, the day you’re scheduled
  • To come in for your yearly physical. Six patients
  • Are waiting this very minute in intensive care

Health seems to be a favorite subject of many poets in their mature years. In John Updike’s “Colonoscopy” the poet pokes literary fun at a disgusting rite of age that many of us are all too familiar with:

  • Talk about intimacy! I’d almost rather not.
  • The day before, a tussle with nausea
  • (drink me: a liter of sickly sweet liquid)
  • and diarrhea, so as to present oneself
  • pristine as a bride to the groom with his tools,
  • his probe and tiny TV camera
  • and honeyed words. He has a tan,
  • just back from a deserved vacation
  • from his accustomed nether regions.

Unfortunately we had to cancel our session on Lyric Poetry scheduled for April 14th because of renovation at the St. Agnes Library. We invite you to post your lyric poems and, if you want (and we hope you do), discuss them on our blog at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Larry, who now lives outside of the New York area, posted Charles Simic’s “Poverty” which begins:

  • When I looked at my poverty:
  • My boots and the belly of my wife,
  • The mouse lying in the trap,
  • And the face of my son while he sleeps,
  • I know nothing can hurt me any longer.

We look forward to the poems about health that you bring for discussion at the May 12th One Page Poetry Circle.

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

Spring Schedule:
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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