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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 12
Time: 5:30 - 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor
Theme: Poetry and Optimism or Pessimism (pdf)

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

We're back for the twelfth 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 1166 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

Pessimistic poems resonate with our own struggles, while optimistic poems can inspire us and give us hope for carrying on. Do all poems show either an optimistic or a pessimistic view of life? Does the attitude depend on the belief of the author, the subject of the poem, or how the author presents the subject?

Gerard Manley Hopkins describes his desperate battle with pessimism at the start of "Carrion Comfort," and finds some means to move forward:

  • Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
  • Not untwist — slack they may be — these last strands of man
  • In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
  • Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.

Optimism is a word that often appears when googling the work of U.S. Poet Laureates. The first poet to hold the title, Joseph Auslander, portrays his consistent theme of undying spirit in these ending lines from "Is This the Lark":

  • To think that I should hear and know
  • The song that Shelley heard, and Shakespeare, long ago!

Today's U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harbo, the first Native American titleholder, moves from pessimism to optimism in "When the World as We Knew It Ended."

The poem opens:

  • We were dreaming on an occupied island at the farthest edge
  • of a trembling nation when it went down.

And ends:

  • But then there were the seeds to plant and the babies
  • who needed milk and comforting, and someone
  • picked up a guitar or ukulele from the rubble
  • and began to sing about the light flutter
  • the kick beneath the skin of the earth
  • we felt there, beneath us
  • a warm animal
  • a song being born between the legs of her;
  • a poem.

We're looking forward to seeing you at the November 12th One Page Poetry Circle. Whether a poem is optimistic or pessimistic or both, 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.

Fall 2019 Schedule
November 12, Poetry and Optimism or Pessimism
December 10, Poetry and Confession

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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