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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 17
Time: 5:30 - 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor
Theme: Poetry and Epistles or Letters (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 1055 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

Like letters, poetry is a means of communication, and at times poetry takes the form of an epistle, often easy to spot because of a title which reads, "To ...." The verse form of letters was popularized during the time of the Roman Empire by Horace and Ovid. Much of the Bible takes the form of verse epistles. Courtly poets during the seventeenth century adopted the form for love letters. Poetic letters may be addressed to a specific person and consequently intimate, to one fictionalized person from another, to a large audience as a letter to the world, or to oneself in a confessional form.

One famous and beautiful letter poem is "To Lucasta, Going to the Wars" by the cavalier poet, Richard Lovelace.

  • Tell me not (Sweet) I am unkind,
  •     That from the nunnery
  • Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
  •     To war and arms I fly.
  • True, a new mistress now I case,
  •     The first foe in the field;
  • And with a stronger faith embrace
  •     A sword, a horse, a shield.
  • Yet this inconstancy is such
  •     As you too shall adore;
  • I could no love thee (Dear) so much,
  •     Lov’d I not Honour more.

"Dear Bryan Wynter" by the Scottish poet W. S. Graham gives us an epistle-elegy addressed to the poet's deceased painter friend. To craft the intimate poem, Graham used bits of letters he'd written to friends and to Wynter's widow. The opening lines of the first verse evoke yet another epistolary poem, "This Is Just To Say," by William Carlos Williams.

  • This is only a note
  • To say how sorry I am
  • You died. You will realize
  • What a position it puts
  • Me in. I couldn’t really
  • Have died for you if so
  • I were inclined. The carn
  • Foxglove here on the wall
  • Outside your first house
  • Leans with me standing
  • In the Zennor wind.

From Our Participants
Ann highly recommends "The Slowdown," a podcast by the previous U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy K. Smith. It's been called "a literary one-a-day vitamin," and it's addictive.

We're looking forward to seeing you at the September 17th One Page Poetry Circle. Whether a poem is in the form of a letter or is about letters, 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
September 17, Poetry and Epistles or Letters
October 1, Poetry and Odd Titles
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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