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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 7
Time: 5:30 - 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor
Theme: Poetry and Longing (pdf)

Find a poem! Show up! Read a poem! Discuss a poem!

We're back for the eleventh spring season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people gather to 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 1041 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

We all know the feeling of longing, whether it is desire or melancholy or yearning. We long for what was, what will be, what might have been, and what never can be.

James Russell Lowell begins his poem "Longing," "Of all the myriad moods of mind/That through the soul come thronging,/Which one was e'er so dear, so kind,/So beautiful as Longing?" T. S. Eliot starts The Waste Land with a sadder aspect of longing: "April is the cruelest month, breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/Memory and desire, stirring/Dull roots with spring rain." In Marie Ponsot's Among Women, the poet gives voice to the longings of women, best kept secret:

  • What women wander?
  • Not many. All. A few.
  • Most would, now & then,
  • & no wonder.
  • Some, and I’m one,
  • Wander sitting still.
  • My small grandmother
  • Bought from every peddler
  • Less for the ribbons and lace
  • Than for their scent
  • Of sleep where you will,
  • Walk out when you want, choose
  • Your bread and your company.
  • She warned me, “Have nothing to lose.”
  • She looked fragile but had
  • High blood, runner’s ankles,
  • Could endure, endure.
  • She loved her rooted garden, her
  • Grand children, her once
  • Wild once young man.
  • Women wander
  • As best they can.

We met on April 2nd to discuss Poetry and Mystery.

Abigail opened the circle with the last stanzas of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King describing the mystery of the end of King Arthur: "He passes to be King among the dead,/And after healing of his grievous wound/He comes again; but-if he come no more-…"

Roger read from "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe, a writer who specialized in mystery, "'Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore-/Tell me what they lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'/Quoth the Raven 'Nevermore.'"

Hazel read "The Tyger" by William Blake in which the poet wonders about the mystery of duality in nature, "Tyger! Tyger! burning bright,/In the forests of the night,/What immortal hand or eye/Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"

Gail broke the nineteenth century mood with Raymond Carver's "Another Mystery": "That time I tagged along with my dad to the dry cleaners-/What'd I know then about Death? Dad comes out carrying a black suit in a/plastic bag. Hangs it up behind the back seat of the old coupe/and says, 'This is the suit your grandpa is going to leave/the world in.' What on earth could he be talking about? I wondered."

Alice read "To Paula in Late Spring" by W. S. Merwin, expressive of his longing: "Let me imagine that we will come again/when we want to and it will be spring/we will be no older than we ever were."

Mei read poetry by Sing Chigi (1140-1207) that she had translated from the Chinese. One was reminiscent of New Year celebrations: "Ladies wear fancy shining jewelries,/Pass by with laughs giggling and perfume./Among crowd looking for her thousand times,/Suddenly look backwards,/Such soul,/At dim light far away shadows."

Howard read Robert Frost's two-line poem, "The Secret Sits": "We dance round in a ring and suppose,/But the Secret sits in the middle and knows."

Cate read Ru Freeman's "The Heart Shows No Signs" with its mysterious images that run through the poem, "The heart, the surgeon says, does not reveal/the small rifts, the hairline cracks which/split the hairline cracks they conceal cops/and robbers in a stretch of skin."

It rarely happens in the circle that two people bring the same poem, but both Daria and AnnaLee brought Paul Laurence Dunbar's powerful poem, "The Mystery," which provides no answer to the eternal mysteries, "I question of th' eternal bending skies/That seem to neighbor with the novice earth;/But they roll on, and daily shut their eyes/On me, as I one day shall do on them,/And tell me not the secret that I ask."

Kai couldn't be there, but thought of Dream Song 29 by John Berryman with the ominous lines, "But never did Henry, as he thought he did,/end anyone and hacks her body up/and hide the pieces, where they may be found."

We're looking forward to seeing you at the May 7th One Page Poetry Circle. Whether a poem expresses longing or you just long to bring it, choose a poem that has meaning to you. And if you can, come with copies for others to share. Can't locate a poem you want to bring? Browse the poetry section at the library or check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

In the meantime, please blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Spring 2019 Season
Tuesday, May 7, Poetry and Longing

Join us in the fall!

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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