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

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

We're back for the tenth 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 989 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

Commemoration poetry, also called occasional poetry, is composed for a particular occasion or after a significant event. Commemoration poems are frequently written to celebrate weddings and to enhance funerals, military victories, defeats and anniversaries. Early British poets often received patronage for writing commemoration verse and the Poet Laureate of England was originally appointed for the purpose of writing verse for significant national occasions, as Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote "The Charge of the Light Brigade." Many people believe that Alfred Austin may have been the worst Poet Laureate as he commemorated the illness of the Prince of Wales with these lines, "Across the wires the electric message came, He is no better, he is much the same."

Similar lines by Philip Larkin, erected at a memorial planter in Queen Square Gardens on the occasion of Elizabeth II's 1977 Silver Jubilee, have an intriguing backstory:

  • In times when nothing stood
  • But worsened, or grew strange,
  • There was one constant good:
  • She did not change

Elizabeth Alexander read her commemoration poem, "Praise Song for the Day," at the inauguration of Barack Obama as President in 2009 in a tradition that includes Robert Frost celebrating the inauguration of President Kennedy (1961), and Maya Angelou (1993) and Miller Williams (1997) celebrating Bill Clinton's inaugurations.

Commemoration poems, although often lyric, can also take the form of elegy, epithalamion and ode. These are poems written for a public and often performed before an audience, which distinguishes them from any poem that may be written for an occasion. One of the most famous World War I commemoration poems is "For the Fallen" by Robert Laurence Binyon, which contains this familiar verse:

  • They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
  • Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
  • At the going down of the sun and in the morning
  • We will remember them.

In "Old South Meeting House," a 2016 poem commissioned by the Academy of American Poets, January Gill O'Neil chose to commemorate a historical church now dwarfed by surrounding skyscrapers along Boston's Freedom Trail, "At this time of political divides, I wanted to end on a note of hope":

  • In praise and dissent.
  • We draw breath from brick. Ignite the fire in us.
  • Speak to us:
  • the language is hope.

We take a broad approach to our themes. Whether a poem is literally about the theme, uses the theme in its title, or has even a remote connection to the theme, feel free to interpret and bring a poem that has meaning for you. Can't locate a poem you want to bring? Look through a poetry book at the library or check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

We look forward to seeing the works you select for Poetry and Commemoration and to discussing them with you on September 12. Bring a poem of a known poet. Bring a friend. Show up! And widen the circle! Without your support the library may find other uses for the spacious room they've given us.

Please blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Fall 2017 Schedule
September 12: Poetry and Commemoration
October 17: Poetry and Punctuation
November 14: Poetry and Power
December 12: Poetry and Windows

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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