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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, November 4
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor
Theme: Poetry and Politics (pdf)

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

We’re here for the seventh 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. We’re keeping count! Since the circle started, OPPC participants have selected and discussed 772 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

Join the circle on Election Day, November 4 to discuss Poetry and Politics.

Even when poems are not directly about politics, they are imbued with it as a poem expresses the author’s view of the world and how it should be. In the poems that follow, two great poets present their visions of America. In Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing,” the poet celebrates the people of our country through the glorification of labor:

  • I HEAR America singing, the varied carols I hear;
  • Those of mechanics—each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and
  • strong;
  • The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or beam,
  • The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or leaves off
  • work;
  • The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat—the deckhand
  • singing on the steamboat deck;
  • The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench—the hatter singing as
  • he stands;
  • The wood-cutter's song—the ploughboy's, on his way in the morning,
  • or at the noon intermission, or at sundown;
  • The delicious singing of the mother—or of the young wife at work—or
  • of the girl sewing or washing—Each singing what belongs to
  • her, and to none else;
  • The day what belongs to the day—At night, the party of young
  • fellows, robust, friendly,
  • Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs.

In response to Whitman’s view, Langston Hughes wrote “I, Too” in which he reminds the reader of those America left out:

  • I, too, sing America.
  • I am the darker brother.
  • They send me to eat in the kitchen
  • When company comes,
  • But I laugh,
  • And eat well,
  • And grow strong.
  • Tomorrow,
  • I’ll be at the table
  • When company comes.
  • Nobody’ll dare
  • Say to me,
  • “Eat in the kitchen,”
  • Then.
  • Besides,
  • They’ll see how beautiful I am
  • And be ashamed—
  • I, too, am America

Although we may be disgusted with our politicians, we are proud of our democracy in which all can contribute to the solving of our problems.

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

On October 15 we met to discuss Poetry and the Ode.

Abigail began the evening with a poem by Mark Twain, who is known more for his fiction than his poetry. The work of a thirteen-year-old character in the novel Huckleberry Finn, “Ode to Stephen Dowling Bots, Dec’d” records a death: “O no. Then list with tearful eye,/Whilst I his fate do tell./His soul did from this cold world fly,/By falling down a well.” Twain’s parody of obituary poetry is also a parody of the ode. The poet expresses no personal emotions, she simply delights in writing about strange deaths.

Roger read John Keats’ famous “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” a poem that has raised a lot of controversy over its final lines, “‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’” While the poem was familiar to all of us, we admired its phrases without reaching a consensus on its meaning. As we continued around the room and other poems were read we found many that referenced Keats’ poem in one way or another.

Gail read C. Dale Young’s, “Ode to a Yellow Onion” which begins, “And what if I had simply passed you by,/your false skins gathering light in a basket,/those skins of unpolished copper,/would you have lived more greatly?” By the end of the poem Young has infused the common onion with myth and greatness.

Karen read “Ode to Apples” by Pablo Neruda, which concludes, “I want to see/The whole/population/of the World/united, reunited,/in the simplest act of the land:/biting an apple.” We loved how Neruda combines the fall from Paradise through eating an apple and the possibility of reuniting the world through the same act.

Neruda was definitely the poet of the evening. AnnaLee read his “Ode to my Socks,” which concludes with the moral, “beauty is twice beauty/and what is good is doubly good/when it is a matter of wool in winter.” The ordinary becomes the beautiful and the sublime with a final nod to Keats’ Grecian Urn. AnnaLee gave us a link to Sharon Olds’ “Ode to a Composting Toilet,” a poem that takes Neruda’s odes on ordinary objects to an extreme.

Merrie closed the Circle with “Curiosity” by Alastair Reid, an ode to his own life, “Only the curious/have, if they live, a tale/worth telling at all.” Certainly all the poets we discussed had a tale worth the telling and we enjoyed hearing the tales together.

Mady couldn’t join us but emailed to say that if she had attended she would have brought Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to the Table” which begins with the process of creation: “I work out my odes/on a four-legged table/laying before me bread and wine/and roast meat” and ends with “The world/is a table,” and “let’s eat!” Using the everyday Neruda sets his ode in motion to show us we can come together at the common table, if we choose to partake.

Larry entered two odes on our blog, both about birds. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Paraphrase on Anacreon: Ode to the Swallow” compares the swallow building his nest with the love that “builds his nest in my heart.” In W. H. Auden’s “Short Ode to a Cuckoo” the narrator mentions his diary, “where I normally enter nothing but social/engagements and, lately, the death of friends, I/scribble year after year when I first hear you,/of a holy moment.”

Mark November 4th in your diary and remember to join us then. We look forward to reading and discussing your selections for our next program, Poetry and Politics.

Here’s the remaining fall lineup:

November 4: Poetry and Politics
December 9: Poetry and Drink

Bring a friend and widen the circle! And remember 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.

 


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