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poetry circle

One Page Poetry Circle Archive


Date: Tuesday, October 13: Poetry and Ghosts and Zombies
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor
Theme: Poetry and Ghosts and Zombies (pdf)

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

We’re back for the eighth 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 837 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

Poetry of ghosts and zombies should be a good prelude to Halloween! An always popular theme on television and in the movies, it may seem an odd combination with poetry. Many excellent examples of the genre are available in the collection Poems Dead and Undead (ed. Tony Barstone, Everyman’s Library, 2014).

As a child we repeated the traditional Scottish prayer to keep us from harm:

  • From ghoulies and ghosties
  • And long-leggedy beasties
  • And things that go bump in the night,
  • Good Lord, deliver us!

Yet we all have things in common with ghosts and zombies, as Christopher Kennedy relates in the prose poem, “Ghost in the Land of Skeletons”:

  • If not for flesh’s pretty paint, we’re just a bunch of skeletons, working hard to deny the fact of bones. Teeth remind me that we die. That’s why I never smile, except when looking at a picture of a ghost, captured by a camera lens, in a book about the paranormal. When someone takes a picture of a spirit, it gives me hope. I admire the ones who refuse to go away. Lovers scorned and criminals burned. I love the dead little girl who plays in her yard, a spectral game of hide and seek. It’s the fact they don’t know they’re dead that appeals to me most. Like a man once said to me, Do you ever feel like you’re a ghost? Sure, I answered, every day. He laughed at that and disappeared. All I could think was he beat me to it.

The One Page Poetry Circle opened its fall season on September 8 with a Favorite Poem. Everyone seemed to find this assignment difficult. Most of us could point to many poems we’d loved since childhood, some reflecting a significant period of time in our lives or a connection with a particular person.

Abigail began with “I wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” in which William Wordsworth describes his double joy, first of happening upon a scene, “When all at once I saw a crowd,/A host, of golden daffodils,” then in his ability to later recollect it, “And then my heart with pleasure fills,/And dances with the daffodils.”

Roger read William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus” which was important to him when he faced cancer, “It matters not how strait the gate,/How charged with punishments the scroll,/I am the master of my fate,/I am the captain of my soul.”

Hazel read Robert Burns’s “Afton Water,” “Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,/Flow gently, sweet river, the theme of my lays” which she chose because it was her father’s favorite and because it was a love poem and not depressing, unlike so many of the poems she considered.

Phil read Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art,” as he fears he is at the age where he is losing everything, “It’s evident/the art of losing’s not too hard to master/though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.”

Gale read “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell, with its description of slow seduction and final account of what should transpire between the couple, “Now let us sport us while we may,/And now, like amorous birds of prey.”

Terry read Edwin Markham’s “The Right Kind of People” a fable in which a wise man tells each traveler what kind of people to expect in the city ahead. He bases his answers on the traveler’s own account of the people in the city he just left: “Gone is the city, gone is the day,/Yet still the story and the meaning stay.”

Karen read Li-Young Lee’s “From Blossoms,” with its description of where peaches originate, “There are days we live/as if death were nowhere/in the background; from joy/to joy, from wing to wing,/from blossom to blossom to/impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.”

AnnaLee read “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” by Wallace Stevens and of the myriad possible ways, AnnaLee stated the fifth was her favorite: “I do not know which to prefer,/The beauty of inflections/Or the beauty of innuendoes,/The blackbird whistling/Or just after.”

Ralda read “Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins with its beautiful descriptions of the complicated and imperfect: “Landscape plotted and pieced -- fold, fallow, and plough;/And all trades, their gear ad tackle trim.”

We look forward to our next OPPC on October 13: Poetry and Ghosts and Zombies.

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

Fall Schedule:
October 13: Poetry and Ghosts and Zombies
November 10: Poetry and Clothes
December 8: Poetry and Marriage

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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